Transportation group is paving the way to hear road concerns for the future with public meetings.
The Rock Hill-Fort Mill Area Transportation Study, which includes parts of Lake Wylie, Indian Land and Tega Cay in addition to the namesake municipalities, is updating its long range plan through 2045. Staff held a public meeting Wednesday in Lake Wylie. One for Fort Mill and Tega Cay is at 6 p.m. Aug. 11 at the Spratt Building in Fort Mill.
RFATS will take online comments, letters and emails for the next month. The federally funded planning organization serves urbanized areas in York County. A policy committee, with elected officials representing the service area, will generate a list of projects to fund from community and transportation modeling input.
The long-range plan must be updated every four years. This revision comes while another list is being generated for next year’s Pennies for Progress campaign. Voters will decide whether to approve a cent sales tax for road improvements.
Ongoing public input is helping a citizen commission come up with a final list of projects ahead of the ballot. Meetings have been held in Fort Mill, Tega Cay, Clover and Rock Hill. The Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerce will host one Sept. 14.
David Hooper, RFATS director, said while it could benefit his list until after the Pennies plan is set to avoid duplicates, he can’t. Federal mandates require he finish the RFATS list this fall.
“We will have to do it before the Pennies list is done,” Hooper said.
There are differences between the two road funding sources. Pennies deals with larger roads, but also specific intersections and gravel road paving projects. RFATS looks at the overall transportation network.
“RFATS kind of steps back and takes a bigger picture view,” Hooper said.
Because Pennies is voter-approved, it helps to have projects spread throughout the county. With RFATS, scoring on a project’s impact to the larger transportation network trumps geographical or municipal areas. More money could go to a few higher need spots in the county.
“The policy committee is certainly aware that you have needs all across the RFATS area,” Hooper said.
On Wednesday, Jon Dye of Lake Wylie mentioned a concern Hooper and others have heard before - the one area lake crossing at Buster Boyd Bridge isn’t enough for the east-west traffic.
Dye said he isn’t aware of any stretch of lake or river so long, in such a growth area, with just one crossing.
“There’s no area that big, that’s a dead zone,” he said.
Lake Wylie and Indian Land were added to the RFATS area following the 2010 US Census, when population growth dictated. More people and businesses coming into Lake Wylie make it a priority for RFATS, Hooper said, especially looking at areas toward Five Points where significant tracts of land remain to be developed.
“If you look at the road network, there is room for growth,” he said.
The long-range plan update promises to garner interest from the policy committee and the communities it represents. Several years ago, a plan for a new Catawba River crossing between Rock Hill and Fort Mill was shelved when group members determined it would take decades worth of RFATS funding just for the one project.
Rock Hill and RFATS leaders have discussed the need for a new river crossing is still there. In Fort Mill, where elected officials were concerned the bridge would dump Rock Hill traffic problems onto Fort Mill streets, demographics are changing. The Waterside and Massey subdivisions have more than 1,000 homes each, and the nearby Spratt property will be bigger than both combined.
“These are significant developments, and you have to take note of that,” Hooper said.
Comments may be submitted to RFATS at rfatsmpo.org, firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 11706, Rock Hill, SC 29731.