Parents Asks RFATS to Enable Students to Walk to Schools Safely

by Liz Duda

Jan. 23, 2021 (York County, SC) At yesterday’s RFATS Policy Committee meeting, Fort Mill families asked elected officials and agencies to complete a sidewalk along the road where their children will walk and cycle to two new schools. The Rock Hill-Fort Mill-Area Transportation Study (RFATS) is the local municipal planning organization responsible for our regional transportation plan.

Public Comments

RFATS Policy Committee Agenda, 01/22/2021 – Pubic Comments, #1a

My name is Amy Boulris, and I represent a group of parents and community members in Fort Mill. We are petitioning for the sidewalk gaps to be closed on Whites Rd so that students can walk to Forest Creek Middle School (which will open this fall) and Catawba Ridge High School (which opened in 2019). We have approximately 800 signatures so far.

Over 1,000 homes are at the end of Whites Road with hundreds of students who could walk or bike to school. Currently there is no margin at all for pedestrian access, making the road unsafe for pedestrians; however, walking will be the fastest method for many students. We want the sidewalk gaps closed so that no student gets hit by a car trying to get to/from school.

Two gaps need to be closed:

–        A 1/3 mile gap between Forrest Creek and Pecan Ridge on mostly Duke power line land and 1 single family property;

–        A second gap between Dominion Bridge and Forrest Creek the length of 1 single family home.

$9M of York County Pennies for Progress 4 money is allocated to Whites Road for repaving this year. We know that legally, that money must be spent on that project. But surely something can be done to protect our children as they walk and bike to school – because they will be walking and cycling along this stretch whether you allocate funding to protecting them or not. We know that a boy was killed coming home from a Fort Mill school last year and we worry about the same thing happening here.

We ask for your help in closing the sidewalk before the middle school opens in August 2021.

What’s Next

We believe that the RFATS Policy Committee received the citizen input on the sidewalk request favorably. At the February 2021 RFATS Technical Committee meeting, the pursuit of collaborative funding involving the Fort Mill School District, Town of Fort Mill, York County, and state Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) will presumably begin.

What ESMMYC and the BPC Think

Eat Smart Move More York County (ESMMYC) leadership team member, Dr. David Keely, is a member of the RFATS Citizen Advisory Committee. He thought that this sounded encouraging! The request is logical and well researched. And it has clear community support. (Did YOU sign the petition yet?) We are grateful to RFATS Policy Committee members for agreeing to consider prioritizing funding in pursuit of safe routes to schools.

ESMMYC and the Bike/Ped Coalition (BPC) of York County want all kids to be able to walk and roll to school safely. We are pleased to share supporting information and connections with local advocates. This is consistent with the BPC mission of supporting York County and its communities becoming more bicycle and pedestrian friendly; and BPC purpose (#2) of equipping York County residents with information to advocate for safer, accessible bicycling, walking and running. It also jibes with ESMMYC’s value of collaboration, where, as a York County coalition, we work with diverse partners and connect people to resources, community organizations and opportunities.

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