Thanks to federal stimulus funds, the drive from Fort Mill into Indian Land could soon become a little smoother.
Hwy. 160 East from Possum Hollow Road to the MacMillan Business Park entrance will be resurfaced with the cost paid with stimulus funds released to South Carolina.
The road has long been slated for widening, but that project is still several years away. In the meantime, resurfacing of the road could ease commuter and residential traffic along the highway, said SCDOT Commissioner Sarah Nuckles, and possibly reduce the cost of widening the road when funding for that project materializes.
"This reconstruction is not widening," Nuckles emphasized in an e-mail to the Fort Mill Times. "It is to improve the existing road."
Widening Hwy. 160 from Possum Hollow Road to the York County line has long been a priority, but funding for that project has been elusive. However, the SCDOT has moved forward on the project and begun trying to obtain right-of-way.
Nuckles recommended the resurfacing of Hwy. 160 East to the SCDOT commission and had it approved last week. The project will use approximately $1.2 million of the more than $460 million in stimulus money the SCDOT received as part of the U.S. Economic Recovery Act.
"I hoped this road could be done because it is such an important commerce route for the companies in the business park, and the potential for jobs, and because of the heavy commuter traffic to [Hwy.] 521," Nuckles said.
"We have tremendous growth in this area and this road was never built to accommodate it. Everyone is aware and we are working hard."
The widening of Hwy. 160 was not eligible for stimulus funds because the project is not "shovel ready," meaning that it could not be ready for construction in 120 days. At the earliest, the project could be ready in about 500 days, according to Wendy Bell, senior planner with the Catawba Regional Council of Governments.
Nuckles has not given up on the possibility of using stimulus funds for resurfacing the remainder of Hwy. 160 East from MacMillan Business Park to the York County line. If more stimulus funds are made available to South Carolina in the future, and if a portion is allocated to roads, she said she will try to resurface the remainder of the road.
"Or, if the widening project is ready in the event we receive another round of stimulus funds, perhaps the widening will then become an eligible project."
A little more than half a mile of Hwy. 160 East through downtown Fort Mill is also slated for resurfacing, stretching from Founder's Federal Credit Union to Banks Street.