Fort Mill Times

Residents can seek answers on Tega Cay road projects Oct. 29

The city will host a public meeting 7 p.m. Oct. 29 in the Council Chambers in the Glennon Center to update residents on road projects.

Experts with York County’s Pennies for Progress program and the state Department of Transportation will answer questions and give status updates on several large projects impacting Tega Cay.

“We reached out to York County staff and asked if they would be willing to help share the information on the projects that are scheduled to get underway very soon,” said Tega Cay Mayor George Sheppard, “and their staff was more than happy to assist.”

Resident concern – from both existing residents and potential ones – is a driving force behind getting road groups together.

“As this area continues to grow, we repeatedly receive phone calls from folks wondering what is being planned to handle the traffic issues that already exist,” Sheppard said.

Roads to be discussed are Hubert Graham Way, the S.C. 160 and Gold Hill Road intersection, the S.C. 160 widening and the Gold Hill Road and Interstate 77 interchange.

Pennies for Progress – the common thread among those projects though they include some state and federal funding – is a 1 percent sales tax charged in York County for use on road construction projects. Campaigns last seven years and must be approved by voter referendum. The first was approved in 1997, with successive approvals in 2003 and 2011.

The Gold Hill Road/I-77 project was approved in the 2011 Pennies campaign. The $11.6 million project is in the design and permitting phase with Kimley-Horn and Associates of Rock Hill its engineering firm. A construction firm hasn’t been selected.

One issue that could make road projects tricky for residents to navigate is the way several smaller projects combine into larger ones.

A widening of S.C. 160 from Gold Hill to Zoar roads was approved for $1.6 million in the 2003 Pennies campaign but now is expected to cost three times that amount. Neither an engineering nor construction contract have been awarded. Funding has been secured for the project through a federal air quality grant.

Widening from Zoar and the North Carolina line, connecting to the earlier project, was approved for $8.8 million in 2011. Campco Engineering in Rock Hill is designing the project.

Campco also is designing the Tega Cay/Gold Hill Connector from Gold Hill to Hubert Graham; that project was approved for $1.5 million in 2003 and now is expected to cost just a little less.

Another issue is funding. Funding swaps have been tried to speed projects: In some instances, Pennies funding has been rerouted or S.C. DOT funding brought in to get the quickest bang for the construction buck.

“Unfortunately, roads are an issue of funding,” said York County Councilman Michael Johnson of Tega Cay. “You’ve got to go with the funding you have at that moment.”

Road issues aren’t confined to Tega Cay. For months, elected officials have called for cooperation among municipalities to identify and meet road needs to match growing communities. On the agenda for York County Council’s meeting Oct. 20, items included bidding a county pavement-condition survey, an upgrade to a western York County road increasing construction costs by a factor of three, a donation of transit buses and a road exchange between the county and S.C. DOT.

Johnson said roads are a constant concern among residents.

“At least 85 percent of all the phone calls I get are about roads,” Johnson said. “It’s probably the No. 1, dominating conversation I have in District 1.”

That estimate includes calls Johnson gets countywide, where concerns in other districts offer a variety of requests. In his district alone, Johnson said, road issues are a near-unanimous reason for residents to call or email.

“In this area, the Fort Mill and Tega Cay area, its 90 percent,” he said. “It’s almost every call I get.”