Council considering Dave Lyle Blvd. extension project

Though the idea to connect York and Lancaster counties via an extension of Dave Lyle Boulevard has long been tossed around, Lancaster County officials are hoping to breathe new life into the proposed project.
During Lancaster County Council’s Sept. 28 meeting, Council chairman Bob Bundy discussed the possibility of partnering with York County to investigate how to make the connection a reality.
The idea is to construct a nine-mile link between I-77 in York County and Charlotte Highway (U.S. 521) in Lancaster County as an alternate route south of Charlotte, one that could possibly bring more businesses, growth and sales tax revenue to both counties.
Armed with a study created by the York County engineering department, as well as an economic impact study commissioned by Winthrop University’s College of Business Administration, Bundy asked council to consider the positive effects the extension could bring.
“(The reports) speak to the benefits to Lancaster County, to alleviating traffic problems and economic problems long-term,” Bundy said.
The extension has long been on the county’s wish list for capital projects. Back in 2009, council approved a resolution to join with York County to apply for funds from the S.C. Transportation Infrastructure Bank, though ultimately the project didn’t move forward.
For Councilman Larry Honeycutt, supporting the project is a no-brainer, particularly because of its potential to bring millions of dollars into the county.
According to the Winthrop study, if built, the extension could bring more than $48 million to Lancaster County during a 25-year timespan, while also drawing more than $45 million to York County during a similar period.
In addition, the same study predicts the addition of more than $1.3 billion in sales tax revenue to South Carolina, much of which would be lost to North Carolina as local shoppers cross the state line.
“It is a tremendous opportunity for Lancaster County. With all the building taking place and jobs becoming available, just think what it would mean to the southern part of the county. It would be tremendous and would bring on jobs, businesses, companies. I’d encourage the county to support it,” Honeycutt said.
Both studies also predict high employment gains from the project, including jobs added during and after the construction phase.
The York County report, which cited information collected from the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, estimated more than 13,000 jobs could be created, while the Winthrop study predicts that number could soar as high as 20,000 new jobs.
Those numbers were astounding to Councilwoman Charlene McGriff.
“The economic impact is just overwhelming in terms of growth and the jobs it’d bring,” McGriff said.
Though she approved of the plan, she wondered if either of the counties involved have the finances, or planning capabilities, to make it happen.
“With York County and Lancaster County together, how would the partnership work?” she asked. “We need to work on how to make this happen.”
Before proceeding further, Councilman Larry McCullough asked for a more detailed explanation of the project, including milestones and costs, especially since the county recently undertook the creation of an in-house economic development department.
“We need to lay out what’s expected to occur,” he said. “We’ve now taken over economic development and that will take a substantial amount of time.”
Councilman Brian Carnes told his fellow council members the plan for a Dave Lyle Boulevard extension is also on the radar for the Rock Hill, Fort Mill Area Transportation Study (RFATS), a group that handles metropolitan planning for those areas. Lancaster County joined the group in 2013 to help with regional planning.
“If funding becomes available, then RFATS is ready, willing and able to program this and make it a reality,” Carnes said.
McGriff asked Carnes if the extension was on the RFATS “to-do list.”
“It’s already been programmed, though there’s no funding or detailed information yet,” Carnes said. “I think the last update to the drawings for the plan were in 2012.”
Bundy also confirmed there is support from the state’s Infrastructure Bank, which helps finance large transportation projects that cost more than $100 million.
“They were at our meeting and said the support is there,” he said.
Having provided the various studies and discussed his intent, Bundy then asked if council is interested in supporting the project and moving forward with speaking to York County officials.
“There are a lot of outlying questions and the biggest one is the funding source,” he said. “I’d like to, on council’s behalf, approach York County Council and speak with (council chairman) Britt Blackwell and discuss the partnership.”
Council informally approved Bundy’s request, though no specific timeframe was discussed for when the meeting will take place or when council will tackle the issue again.

By the numbers
The following are based on projections and cost estimates from a 2014 York County engineering report.
◆ 9 miles: Proposed length of the DLB extension
◆ $221 million: Estimated total cost of extension (which includes $125 million in road construction, $31 million in interchanges, $48.4 million in over/underpasses, $13.8 million in right-of-ways, $3.1 million in environmental mitigation)
◆ 13: Proposed bridges
The following are based on projections and cost estimates from a 2015 Winthrop University report.
◆ 20,000: Amount of new jobs attracted from new extension
◆ $48 million: Dollars of revenue generated in Lancaster County within 25 years
◆ $45 million: Dollars of revenue generated in York County within 25 years
◆ $1.3 billion: Dollars of sales tax revenue generated for South Carolina within 25 years

By Christopher Sardelli, Staff Reporter with The Lancaster News