Fort Mill Times

A busy Fort Mill intersection needs relief. How streams two counties away can help.

A heavily trafficked Fort Mill intersection will be reworked to connect the busy Fort Mill Parkway and Sutton Road thoroughfares.
A heavily trafficked Fort Mill intersection will be reworked to connect the busy Fort Mill Parkway and Sutton Road thoroughfares. jmarks@fortmilltimes.com

York County approved more than $200,000 Monday night for the intersection of Fort Mill Southern Bypass, Spratt Street and Sutton Road. The money, though, isn’t going to pavement or signal poles.

It’s going to Fairfield and Newberry counties.

Road construction projects are required to mitigate impacts to streams and wetlands. Sometimes it can be done on site. When it can’t, a common practice is to purchase credits from a mitigation bank. Or, paying for environmental improvements elsewhere to make good for the local impact.

The Fort Mill intersection, heavily trafficked at both rush hours most days, will be reworked to connect the busy Fort Mill Parkway and Sutton Road thoroughfares. But doing so will impact 296 feet of stream. Though county leaders have discussed it in recent years, there aren’t local mitigation banks with which the county can partner. There are some within the Catawba River watershed.

The Taylor’s Creek mitigation bank is located in central Fairfield County. It’s about 35 miles north of Columbia. It has seven miles of stream on 1,100 acres. It’s connected to Lake Wateree, the endpoint of the Catawba and beginning of the Wateree River.

The Turners Branch mitigation bank is based in Newberry. It serves more than a dozen counties, including the Catawba, Broad and Saluda river systems.

The Fort Mill intersection will purchase a combined $202,752 in credits from the banks. The money can be used for land preservation or related activities there.

The intersection work is part of York County’s referendum-based 1-cent sales tax program called Pennies for Progress. Pennies 3 passed in 2011. The county expected $161 million in tax revenue, collected over seven years. Now the county estimates it at $170 million.

The Fort Mill intersection is a $10.3 million project. The county is acquiring right-of-way. The project has an engineer, but not yet a construction company. It’s projected for completion next year.

So far, seven projects from that 2011 vote are complete with 17 more at various stages of planning or construction.

Local projects of note include widenings of S.C. 160 West from Zoar Road to the North Carolina line (expected completion in 2019), S.C. 160 East from Springfield Parkway to the Lancaster County line (2020) and U.S. 21 North and S.C. 51 from Springfield Parkway to the North Carolina line (2022), along with interchange improvements at I-77 and Gold Hill Road (2020).

Lake Wylie work includes widenings of S.C. 274 and Pole Branch Road from Landing Point to the North Carolina line (2020) and S.C. 557 from Kingsburry Road to S.C. 49 (2020).

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