KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — Kingsport city leaders are moving forward with a plan to close a section of Jared Drive at the request of Eastman Chemical Company.
The Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Tuesday unanimously approved vacating a 1,500-foot section of Jared Drive near the intersection of Riverport Road and Wilcox Drive. The BMA will have to pass the proposal again at its next meeting to make it final.
Eastman requested the road be closed so that the company can expand its railyard. The company owns property on both sides of Jared Drive and is the only property owner abutting the proposed closed section.
During Tuesday night’s BMA meeting, Planning Manager Ken Weems said the county portion of Jared Drive will end at a cul-de-sac, which the county will begin constructing next week.
It is unclear when the city will close its section of the road, which runs from Riverport Road/Wilcox Drive to the railroad tracks that cross Jared Drive. The city previously said the road would be closed in the second half of this year.
The overall plan will involve the state constructing a new road, named Meadow Park Lane, between the MeadowView area and Riverport Road. Originally, the city planned to build a new Jared Drive that would have run along the sluice, parallel to the existing road. However, that proposal was scrapped because it would have resulted in no new developable land, a loss of 10 acres of existing industrial land, and required a buffer to the sluice.
The proposed Meadow Park Lane is supposed to create 108 acres of land suitable for industrial and business development. Some of that land will be used by Eastman.
“It’s very important to us and it will also position Kingsport for future investment, new investment by Eastman,” said CeeGee MccCard, Eastman’s director of economic and community development.
Closing Jared Drive to thru-traffic will inconvenience some, especially those living along Moreland Drive who regularly travel on the road, but city officials say the current plan is a win-win.
“While some folks might consider it to be an inconvenience, the long-term payoff is great for both Eastman and the community,” Mayor Pat Shull said.
Weems said closing Jared Drive will increase drive times by 1.5–3 minutes on average. A traffic analysis showed there are around 4,300 through-trips (traffic not going to or stopping at Eastman) on Jared Drive a day.
The new Meadow Park Lane is expected to cost around $28.7 million and take three to four years to complete.