Road Warrior

Blythewood Town Council, in a masterful feat of leadership, has moved to correct a long-standing problem: pot-hole filled McNulty Road and the need for an attractive walkable downtown.

In what would seem to most to be an unexpected reversal, the Council is open to re-direct its priorities and Penny Tax revenues to making the downtown district into an attractive and pedestrian-friendly area.

As reported in The Voice last week the action was apparently triggered by notes Town Administrator Gary Parker included in the agenda for Council’s annual retreat on March 5. Does Council want to come to terms, Parker asked, with the long-standing call of its Master Plan for a walkable Town Center? It was a truly significant question for Blythewood where Council meetings for years have been busier with other matters.

Just two weeks previously the Council and Richland County members of the Penny Tax committee gave a preview of what might be done with those pennies they have been collecting. The meeting attracted a large crowd to Doko Manor and the Blythewood Chamber of Commerce arranged for lunch.

Most of the meeting was devoted to big items such as making Blythewood Road five lanes, fancy traffic circles and extending Creech Street. McNulty Road was barely mentioned. Ditto for sidewalks on that long-suffering neglected street. “Businesses like a walkable downtown area,” Parker said at the Council retreat.

Council took the bit and ran with it. The idea of making the section of Blythewood Road (between I-77 and Main Street) into a five-lane route suddenly seems to be less popular with Council. They seem to be favoring a design for both Blythewood Road and McNulty between Main Street and I-77 that would include planted medians and 8-foot wide sidewalks, plus parallel parking on Blythewood Road. Brilliant!

Blythewood Road might someday need to be two lanes in each direction from I-77. But now? This citizen doubts it. The County Penny Tax gurus need to listen to Town Council.

Mayor J. Michael Ross and Councilman Tom Utroska believe a town meeting to hear from the public would be helpful. “This would be a wonderful opportunity for McNulty Road,” the mayor added. There will be other meetings in the coming weeks that will involve the S.C. Department of Transportation, the Penny Tax Committee and Council.

Now is the time for citizens to make known their feelings to Council and anyone who will listen.

Ken Baldwin

Blythewood