Fort Mill Times

Want to talk about road needs in Lake Wylie? Meeting planned Sept. 14

A Pennies for Progress sign shows the way to work on S.C. 274 in Lake Wylie.
A Pennies for Progress sign shows the way to work on S.C. 274 in Lake Wylie. Lake Wylie Pilot file photo

The group looking for input on York County road needs can expect a different sort of meeting Sept. 14 in Lake Wylie.

The Pennies for Progress commission in charge of setting a list of road needs for public vote in 2017 will hold a 6 p.m. community meeting at Oakridge Elementary School, 5670 Oakridge Road. The format will be similar to others held countywide. The input may not be.

Susan Bromfield, president of Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerce, helped the county set up the meeting. The chamber is working on its own list of road need suggestions, but several local problem areas – S.C. 279/Pole Branch Road, S.C. 274 and S.C. 557 – already are part of past Pennies campaigns.

They just haven’t happened yet.

“The things that are problems here are on the list, and they haven’t been done,” Bromfield said. “And it’s a problem.”

Voters approved a widening of S.C. 557 from Kingsburry Road to S.C. 49 in the second Pennies campaign in 2003, but funding problems bumped it to the third campaign in 2011. The same happened for a S.C. 274/Pole Branch widening from Landing Point to the state line. Neither project is slated for completion before 2020.

Construction begins this month on an intersection improvement at S.C. 49 and Campbell Road, approved in 2011. Shoulder widening along Paraham Road between S.C. 55 and 161 is under construction now from the 2011 vote. An intersection improvement at Griggs and Bate Harvey roads at S.C. 557 was approved in 2011, and should open next year.

While Bromfield expects some residents will come out to make cases for the roads near them, she also could see people less familiar with past Pennies votes who want to put projects on the new list that already made past ones. Then, there are those who may want to know why projects are taking so long.

“They want them to finish what they’ve already been paying taxes on,” Bromfield said.

Pennies is a cent sales tax voters approve to fund road construction projects. York County began the model, which since has been used in other parts of the state. A commission of residents takes countywide input before submitting a plan to York County Council.

The Pennies 4 commission has six members. Chairman Jerry Helms of Lake Wylie has been part of the commission with each Pennies campaign since it began in 1997. Carl Dicks, vice chairman, and John Gettys, secretary, were appointed by Rock Hill. York County appointed former Fort Mill Mayor Danny Funderburk, and town parks and recreation director Brown Simpson. Charles Plemmons represents the remaining parts of York County.

The commission began a series of public meetings in February. Since, they’ve met with elected officials and residents in Tega Cay, Rock Hill, Clover and Fort Mill. In August, they had a combined meeting for Sharon, Hickory Grove, Smyrna and McConnells. They will meet Sept. 21 in York.

The Lake Wylie input could be different in that, unlike other areas, there is no municipal planning department to evaluate and submit requests.

“We’re not a town,” Bromfield said.

S.C. 49 widening will be mentioned, she said, though with a large bridge between two states the Lake Wylie thoroughfare could be quite a task to take on for Pennies. Expanding the already approved widening of S.C. 557 could be an option, all the way to S.C. 55. If the commission wants to “have something manageable that they think will make a difference,” Bromfield could see resurfacing of Liberty Hill Road, which leads down to a law enforcement facility accessing the lake.

“We know they can’t fund everything in the county,” Bromfield said, “but they need to be aware.”

Whatever Lake Wylie projects emerge will join a crowded list. Municipalities and transportation planning groups already submitted 59 projects. Some were overlaps, but the figure doesn’t include public comments accounting for other roads. The Pennies campaign won’t come close to funding them all, instead looking for the best road improvements to help the most people in the most areas, for the money.

“The commission will finalize their list in May and submit to York County Council to approve,” said Patrick Hamilton, Pennies program manager.

York County Council will hold a public hearing and adopt or reject the list during the summer months, followed by a Nov. 7, 2017, public referendum.

John Marks: 803-831-8166

Want to go?

Pennies for Progress commission will hold at public meeting at 6 p.m. Sept. 14 at Oakridge Elementary School, 5670 Oakridge Road, Lake Wylie.