KINGSPORT, TENN. (WJHL)- Drivers along Kingsport’s Stone Drive will notice the construction of a five-foot wide sidewalk this summer.
A sidewalk along the busy Kingsport road has been in the planning phases for years. A $1.57 million grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation will pave the way for over two miles to be constructed.
Deputy City Manager Ryan McReynolds said the new sidewalks aren’t meant to encourage more walking, but make it safer if one does.
“The issue is there are already people [walking] there,” McReynolds said. “The KATS buses are picking up and dropping off individuals who work at the restaurants. There are people walking from their houses to work.”
Based on TDOT standards for state roadways, Stone Drive scored high in the need for grant money towards safety updates.
“It has a higher-then-average instant rate and fatality rate between pedestrians and vehicles,” McReynolds said.
The new sidewalk will stretch from Clinchfield Street all the way to Texas Roadhouse on East Stone Drive. With the State granting $1.57 million, or 95 percent of the project cost, local taxpayers will pay the remaining $80,000 for the sidewalk.
At last week’s Kingsport Town Hall meeting, Mayor Pat Shull said he wasn’t in favor of the project.
“I wasn’t for putting sidewalks on Stone Drive,” he told the crowd. “The decision was made before I took office. But Kingsport had reasons for doing that. The city only had to spend $80,000, and they got a grant for the rest.”
Other citizen speakers at the Town Hall questioned the safety of adding a Stone Drive sidewalk.
“They just don’t make much sense to me,” one speaker said. “I just can’t wait until someone runs over a person who’s crossing in front of Chick-fil-A.”
Once Stone Drive’s sidewalk is complete, crosswalks will be added along the road. The sidewalk will be on the north side of the road between Clinchfield and Gibson Mill Road. A crosswalk will be added at Gibson Mill, where the sidewalk will switch over to the south side traveling to Texas Road House.
McReynolds said during construction, impact to drivers will be minor, causing only temporary lane or shoulder closures.
COLONIAL HEIGHTS SIDEWALK PROPOSAL
Aside from the Stone Drive project, the City may also apply for a grant to bring sidewalk to Colonial Heights. The proposed stretch would span Fort Henry Drive between Colonial Heights Road and Lakecrest Drive.
McReynolds said this would also be paid for with grant money. The state would put $716,000 into the project, with Kingsport taxpayers contributing the remaining $36,000.
The sidewalk’s construction could be several years away, with the Kingsport BMA still needing to apply for the grant.
McReynolds said TDOT requires grant money to go towards improving state roadways.
“So it can’t be sent from that activity to within the city, to let’s say, pave potholes or something like that. It has to be spent along the pathways along state routes,” he said.