'I’ve never had to bury a child’: Congested highway where pedestrian killed under study

Congested highway where pedestrian killed under study

LAKE WYLIE, S.C. — A man was killed crossing a busy York County highway, and it’s sparking a push for change.

Nick Ritter died last month crossing Highway 49 in Lake Wylie.

The driver who hit him has not been charged, but Ritter’s loved ones want to make the highway safer for pedestrians and growing traffic.

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Ritter was 30 years old and left behind a 3-year-old daughter.

On Jan. 6, he left work at a sandwich shop and walked across Highway 49 at Village Harbor Drive where he was killed.

There's a memorial where he was hit by a car and killed.

His mother, Grish Bortner, said she's still numb.

"It's a lot to endure. I don't want to see somebody else have to go through this and if I can do something to change it, I will," she said.

Her close friend, Cindy Corcoran, watched Ritter grow up.

"He was a great kid, always had a smile," she said. "There's just nothing I can say. I've never had to bury a child."

Although Ritter was killed crossing at a light, Corcoran and Bortner are working together to push for greater traffic control. The group, A Call for Change, started online to help push for safety improvements.

They want traffic lights outside the Forest Oaks neighborhood and at Evergreen Road, which would allow traffic to get onto the highway during rush hour and slow down speeders.

Last week, The Rock Hill-Fort Mill Area Transportation Study agreed to an in-depth study of Highway 49 from the Buster Boyd Bridge to Oak Ridge Middle School, which is about 4 miles.

The study would include looking at traffic controls, the timing of lights, crosswalks, sidewalks and any other improvements to benefit commuters and pedestrians.

York County Councilwoman Allison Love has been pushing for those improvements for months.

She met with leaders from RFATS and the Department of Transportation and local lawmakers in September to talk about a plan for Highway 49.

"We need to do it right, so we don't have to go back later and do it again," Love said. "Rather than rush and do something that might make more problems or not solve the problems, they're gonna study it and figure out exactly what needs to be done."

A 2018 traffic count taken near the Buster Boyd Bridge shows 34,000 vehicles travel on the road each day, which is mostly commuter traffic from Lake Wylie and Clover toward the Steele Creek area.

The area is growing so fast there’s still a moratorium in place on any new residential development for another year as officials try to get a handle on it.

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