Fort Mill Times

5 years is too long to wait

The most significant fact from the Pennies for Progress July 1 meeting on the planned widening of Pole Branch Road is how long it will take.

Planners are taking input from the public for six more months, and construction is set to begin in 2017 after right-of-way acquisition.

Project managers at the meeting said once started, the project should take about two years to complete.

Even if we ignore the words used to provide wiggle room and deadline slippage (“should,” “about”), the timeframe for this project is excessive.

Let’s put this into historical perspective: the Normandy invasion in World War II took place on June 6, 1944, just 2 1/2 years after the U.S. entered the war. San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge project was approved in 1932. Construction started in 1933. The bridge opened in 1937. A campaign to raise money to erect the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor started in 1882. The finished statue was unveiled in 1886.

Admittedly the widening of a local road isn’t as vital or interesting as those high-profile projects. But still, the funding for the Pole Branch project was approved by voters in 2011, yet by the project manager’s own estimates, the project won’t have been completed until eight years later. And realistically, most construction projects seldom are completed in less time than initial estimates.

Pole Branch Road becomes more heavily traveled each year, as new housing areas open up on both sides of the state line. In its current state of blind curves and steep hills, it becomes a increasingly greater safety hazard. It is frankly a dangerous route to drive, a situation being made even worse by the deteriorating road surface, and the constant potholes along its length. It’s probable that no plans exist for any major permanent improvements to the road surface, since the widening project is “pending.” Well, to us a completion date close to 2020 isn’t “pending.” The surface needs to be addressed.

We urge York County Council and county managers to find a way to move up the completion date on this important improvement to what is now arguably the most dangerous part of our community’s road system.