Keeping up with road needs is a challenge for local planners. Keeping up with road plans, not so much.
The Rock Hill-Fort Mill Area Transportation Study recently completed an online mapping update to help residents throughout the region see where road work is planned, when it should be done, how much it will cost and who is in charge. The system includes not only RFATS-funded projects, but also Pennies for Progress work and construction from other sources such as federal air quality grants.
“We’ve tried to put something out there that anybody can use,” said David Hooper, RFATS director.
Separate maps show traffic counts in the RFATS area and larger region. All are found at rfats.org under the “RFATS Maps” tag.
RFATS is a metropolitan planning organization, a group allocating federal funding for transportation projects from major highway expansion to sidewalk and bike lane installation. Areas include Rock Hill and Fort Mill, along with Tega Cay, unincorporated areas in between and parts of Lake Wylie and Indian Land. The group is working on a long-range plan update and is accepting public comment on the RFATS site.
One area Hooper would like to make inroads on, but isn’t related to the long-range plan, is public transit.
“It’s inherently frustrating because it doesn’t make sense,” Hooper said.
Some RFATS areas fall within the Rock Hill urbanized area, others in Charlotte. York County Access provides rides for residents — often seniors for medical or other critical need transportation — from the Rock Hill side. Fort Mill, Tega Cay, Indian Land and part of Lake Wylie aren’t included. Because of the Charlotte area’s size, it can’t be added through federal funding.
RFATS receives money for the York County areas for some needs from its counterpart Charlotte group. York County Access isn’t one of them. York County Access can go east of the Catawba River, but only if the ride originates to the west in the Rock Hill urban area. Hooper has asked federal planners if there is a way to include all of York County.The problem is planning boundaries split at natural barriers — mainly the Catawba River — instead of municipal ones.
“I don’t know that it always has to be like that,” Hooper said.
Lake Wylie can be a confusing area. York County Access can serve the Five Points area, even driving up to S.C. 49 or into North Carolina. But the S.C. 49 corridor is excluded. Rides can go through there, but not start there.
Barbara Deuble, an Autumn Cove resident in her 80s, said the issue is bigger than a planning quirk. She has called before looking for a ride. She was told there was nothing for her.
“When you call them, they want to know if you're on Medicaid,” she said. “You say no and they say well then it won't come, and we don't come out there anyway.”
Deuble said she knows of residents who moved from their homes when they could no longer drive to medical appointments. Inability to drive is a major issue for seniors, she said.
“It means the end of your life, to tell you the truth,” she said. “It's very frightening to consider what could happen.”
Hooper said he will continue pressing on the federal level to see if York County municipalities can be reorganized together. He also approached Fort Mill and Tega Cay in the past year to see if municipalities want to share the cost of a response service.
John Marks: 803-831-8166