YORK COUNTY, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Rush hour on Highway 521 is often bumper-to-bumper as people head home from work. 

Some fear it’s only bound to get worse. 

“When you have an area that’s growing greater than 90 percent every ten years, that’s quite a transition,” Rock Hill Fort Mill Area Transportation Study director David Hooper said. “And there are a lot of new folks coming into the area. There are significant changes in operational demand levels on the corridors. And when you have that, you have more congestion and more accidents.” 

Leaders say they may have a fix not just for U.S. 521 and the S.C. 160 intersection in Indian Land — but the entire 521 corridor. 

“From the state line all the way down to Waxhaw Highway, about 8.5 miles,” Hooper said. 

Multiple options for traffic relief ahead?

That study addressed safety, overall access over time, and reliability.

Hooper and his team looked at different configurations that would quickly expand capacity to meet the needs of not only cars but other forms of transportation like pedestrians and cyclists. They came up with three options.

“The first one is a traditional widening going from four to six lanes. Option two is often referred to as a super street concept,” Hooper explained. 

He says this unique option would reconfigure the left turn so that people will turn right up to a midpoint and then do a u-turn — it tends to improve overall corridor efficiency and safety.

But what may work at one end of the highway may not work at the other end — so the RFATS team made a hybrid of options one and two. 

“You can have periods of frustration that are high in intensity but low in duration, or you can have others where you’ve got a more moderate level of intensity or frustration, but it extends over a long period of time and adversely impacts drivers abilities to get where they need to go. And so we’re trying to make sure that we’ve got a fair understanding of those different types of concerns and how best to address them,” Hooper said. 

“We’ve got traffic that comes from North Carolina along Marvin Road to come up and go north toward Ballantyne. We’ve got traffic coming from York County and Fort Mill along 160 that does the same thing and vice versa. So there’s a lot that has to be accomplished at that one location,” He said. 

If approved, officials believe it will cost around $100 million, paid for through multiple funding sources, including taxpayer money, the county, and grants. 

“When we look at the Interchange Reconfiguration Project over at Kingsley at Exit 85 on I-77, that’s in the low 90s. Recently the State Infrastructure Bank awarded funding to improve the Carowinds Boulevard interchange, and there’s a total of $85 million there,” Hooper said.

“So while these price levels are indeed high, $100 million for the entire corridor is not inconsistent with what we’ve seen at other priority locations.”