FORT MILL, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Cones, cones, and more cones.
Drivers hoped these were a thing of the past as the new $8.5 million bypass from Fort Mill Parkway to Spratt Street opened on Friday.
Instead, they ran into stand-still traffic. Some drivers say they sat for as long as 30 minutes in one spot.
Patrick Hamilton, the Director of Pennies for Progress in York County, says the contractor had a few loose ends to tie up before the project would be fully complete.
“Due to the contractor having to do some additional work, trying to tie the news roads into the existing roads, so yes, we did have to stop traffic, put some new pavement markings down,” Hamilton said. “..While they were making that final crossover today, I imagine there were some very large backups. But that’s not going to be common. That was just specifically to today.”
The county approved this construction project under the Pennies for Progress program in 2011.
The Pennies campaign is a one-cent sales tax program over seven years. The revenue builds, resurfaces, and improves roads in York County. Voters must approve each Pennies campaign. The intersection set to open Friday is part of the third Pennies vote, held in 2003.
After getting full design approval in 2015, drivers can now drive over the completed project.
There was once a stop light at the intersection of Fort Mill Parkway and Spratt Street. With the new construction, it’s no longer there.
With heavier traffic going into the parkway, they realigned the intersection to allow drivers to use Fort Mill Parkway as a thru route. Spratt Street coming from downtown Fort Mill now runs into the parkway.
They also added a few additional turn lanes.
Hamilton says they hope the intersection will function more efficiently now.
“Now, due to the pure volume that’s in the area, there will probably be, from time to time, during the peak hours – you know, morning rush hour, evening rush hour,” he said. “There may still be some delays, but overall, this intersection should function better.”
The new intersection is part of the area’s more extensive network of road improvement. When the town bypass opened in full in 2016, it became a common cut-through for drivers from Rock Hill, Baxter, and unincorporated areas on the west to places from Indian Land and Ballantyne on the west.
Seeing many license plates from both Carolinas on the road is routine. The bypass opened a ring around Fort Mill from near the U.S. 21 bridge over the Catawba River at Rock Hill to the Dobys Bridge Road, Gold Hill Road, and other corridors up to Tega Cay. Planners knew even as the final stages of the bypass opened; it would need widening.
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The next project is sure to make drivers even happier.
“In design right now in the Pennies 4 project is to widen this section of roadway to five lanes, so that will help even more to improve this area in the future,” Hamilton said.