Bridge planners seek input on proposed paths

A transportation planning committee in eastern York County is exploring four paths for a proposed bridge over the Catawba River that would connect northern Rock Hill with Fort Mill.

The bridge would span from the area of Mount Gallant, Twin Lakes and India Hook roads in northern Rock Hill to Fort Mill near Harris Road or Sutton Road and Interstate 77.

The Rock Hill-Fort Mill Area Transportation Study will hold a public meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Riverview Elementary School in Fort Mill to present the alignments and get public comment.

There will be a formal presentation at 6 p.m. and then a public review of the maps. Project leaders will be available to answer questions.

“We would like to hear from the public, any concerns they have,” said David Hooper, RFATS coordinator. “If they like a potential option, we’d certainly like to hear that as well.”

Hooper said this meeting, while not the last opportunity for the public to weigh in, is perhaps the most important.

The consulting firm RFATS hired to develop the bridge plan will next recommend a preferred alignment, taking public input into consideration.

Transportation planners say the bridge will provide a much needed east-west connector that would alleviate traffic on I-77 and in Rock Hill, especially on Celanese near the interstate, and create more connectivity for traffic moving about the county, planners have said.

There’s also land with potential for development in the focus area and plans for residential, commercial and mixed-use development, project leaders said.

Carolinas Healthcare System recently purchased a parcel of land near the intersection of Sutton Road and I-77. Two of the four bridge alignments would tie in just north of the hospital property.

Consultants who came up with the possible alignments said the design likely will be a four-lane divided roadway with a median, 12-foot lanes, bike lanes and sidewalks.

Higher costs

The four options, which vary in impact to properties and other environmental features, are all estimated to cost more than a $42.5 million early projection.

Two of the four plans doubled the early estimate due to more properties being impacted and higher costs of securing right of way, Hooper said.

The project already has dollars being set aside for it in an annual federal allocation RFATS receives. That figure amounts to about $4.8 million a year, Hooper said. The bulk of those dollars are set aside for the bridge project.

The RFATS committee will have to take cost into consideration. The lower cost options, which connect at Sutton Rd. east of the river, are “certainly manageable” for the transportation committee, while the other options would absorb most the federal allocation over the next 25 years, he said. The committee has options for seeking additional support if necessary, he said.

By Jamie Self, Staff Reporter with The Herald