KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — The City of Kingsport plans to relocate a section of Jared Drive in order to make room for Eastman Chemical Company.
The project involves realigning the section of Jared Drive between the Riverport Road/Wilcox Drive intersection and the Young Road intersection. The new route would run adjacent to the South Fork Holston River sluice, paralleling the current roadway.
Currently, Jared Drive bisects Eastman’s property, which is why the company wants it changed.
The city says the realignment would be a “win-win” for the community and Eastman.
“The new route, moving a portion of Jared Drive to run along the South Holston River Sluice and away from the rail storage yard, will allow for unimpeded passage from Riverport Road to Moreland Drive while allowing for Eastman to operate safely and effectively within a more contiguous site,” Deputy City Manager Ryan McReynolds said in a news release.
The proposed road realignment is in connection with Project Inspire. Announced in 2013, Project Inspire involved Eastman making a long-term commitment to its future in Kingsport by agreeing to invest $1.6 billion in its Kingsport facilities. At the same time, the state committed to making infrastructure improvements in connection with Eastman’s reinvestment projects, such as the construction of the company’s new corporate business center on Wilcox Drive.
“We are proud to have Eastman headquartered in Kingsport,” McReynolds said. “This realignment maintains roadway connectivity for residents and allows Eastman to move forward with its growth efforts, which is good for both the company and Kingsport.”
The Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night applying for funding through the State Industrial Access program to help pay for the realignment project. The local share for the cost of the project will be determined once the Tennessee Department of Transportation completes an initial cost estimate.
“Eastman appreciates the City of Kingsport for its commitment to pursue the Jared Drive project, which allows us to maintain passage from Riverport Road to Moreland Drive for residents while continuing to operate Eastman’s Tennessee Operations site safely. As we continue to accelerate our growth strategy, the opportunity to expand onsite rail capacity without impeding residential traffic and position Eastman for future growth couldn’t come at a better time. We are confident the Jared Drive realignment will be a positive improvement for all of us.”Eastman Chemical Company statement
The city says the project will also open up the possibility for pedestrian options, such as a walkway along the sluice.
The map of the proposed project also suggests the potential rehabilitation of the old South Eastman Road bridge over the sluice, which has been closed for decades.
The city says the project is set to start in late 2021 and is estimated to take a year to complete.