KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) officials say the state is prepping Memorial Boulevard in Kingsport for a complete overhaul.
Mark Nagi, TDOT community relations officer, told News Channel 11 that while the construction segment of the project is still a ways off, land purchases and demolitions along State Route 126 are well underway.
“We are currently 65-70% complete with property acquisitions of this 257 tract project,” Nagi said. “We are currently acquiring sites, relocating displaced residents and businesses, and conducting various property management functions including mowing, clearing, demolitions, well closures and septic removals in anticipation for the roadway construction.”
Nagi said contracts for demolition and clearing have gone to several local companies, and TDOT is expecting many more jobs to arise out of the work in the future.
The finished road will feature widened and new lanes in several areas, but in order to do so, the houses and businesses alongside the existing road will be demolished. Alongside lane additions, the geometry of the road will be changed to increase safety at current speed limits.
The project involves cooperation with several authorities in the area and state, including the City of Kingsport, Sullivan County and the Kingsport Metropolitan Planning Organization. Nagi said locals in the area provided crucial feedback that let the state know just what needed work on the route.
While the process is ongoing, there are several steps that the state must take before a property can be demolished for a project of this scale. One major hurdle is abatement work in the area, where the state must contain and dispose of any hazardous materials found on-site.
Nagi said of the 257 properties that are expected to be impacted, the vast majority have been purchased already. Once they are empty, Nagi said TDOT contractors will work to clear the site as quickly as possible to prevent “vandalism or vagrants coming on to the property.”
The site is scheduled to be ready in late 2022 or early 2023, Nagi said, and will require full state funding before construction can begin.