Pathway is overdue

When Rock Hill's South Pointe High School opened in 2005, students who live along Crawford Road and in the College Downs neighborhood had no safe route for walking to school. They still don't.

The new school year started Wednesday without the completion of a pathway along Neely Road for students walking to school. The sidewalk, which will run between Crawford and Rawlsville roads, was supposed to be in place by the time school started.

But now, with delays York County officials encountered getting necessary permits from the state, the path is not expected to be finished until the end of September. Workers still must lay the asphalt, complete a culvert that crosses a small creek and install lighting along the road in front of the trail.

Students who live within 1.5 miles of their school are not permitted, by state law, to ride buses to and from school. Local school officials temporarily allowed buses to transport students within the 1.5-mile perimeter in 2005, but later had to halt the service to comply with state law.

Local officials have had plenty of time to solve this dilemma. After all, the school board chose the site for South Pointe in 2001.

To their credit, city, county, state and local school officials have worked together to find money for the project. A request for a state grant to build a path was rejected in 2006, but earlier this year, the project was awarded a federal grant.

We are relieved that a solution was found. At the same time, however, it is frustrating that the path was not completed in time for the start of the school year.

Officials can complain about delays and red tape, but the fact is, this problem should have been fixed long ago.

Local leaders should have found a way to complete South Pointe pathway by now.