Kingsport will move Main Street power poles after all

Matthew Lane • Oct 17, 2018 at 9:11 AM

KINGSPORT — It looks like the power poles on Main Street are being moved after all.

If you’ll recall, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen chose not to take action last month on a measure that would have relocated the power poles from the north side of the street. A majority of the BMA basically felt it was not the best use of city funds.

However, during a work session Monday afternoon, Alderman Joe Begley, who has supported moving the power poles, brought the issue up again, asking his fellow aldermen to reconsider their position.

“As I dig deeper, and since we’re doing the project on Main Street ... I think we really need to think about (moving the poles) while we’re there,” Begley said on Monday. “It’s never going to get cheaper to do that kind of work. I’d like to see if anybody had any thoughts about it.”


Kingsport is planning to rebuild and improve Main Street from Sullivan Street to Clinchfield Street. The $5.5 million project will be funded 80 percent by state and federal money and 20 percent by local funds. Work is expected to begin next summer.

Before work could start, the BMA needed to make a decision on what to do with the overhead power lines that run down Main Street. The three options were to do nothing, move the transmission lines across the street ($2.28 million) or move them to the other side of the railroad tracks ($3.15 million).

The distribution and communication lines currently on the power poles will go underneath the newly rebuilt Main Street under all three options.


During its regular meeting Tuesday night, the BMA voted 4 to 3 to approve a measure that will ultimately move the power poles to the other side of Main Street. Begley, along with Mayor John Clark, Betsy Cooper and Tommy Olterman voted in favor of the measure.

“As we continue to improve downtown, that’s one of the roads (people) are coming in on,” Begley said. “While we’re spending millions of dollars to improve the street ... to leave those poles would look foolish.”

Colette George said she didn’t thinking spending $2.2 million on one mile of road is the best use of that money.

“I just don’t think it has the same impact, and I don’t think it touches that many people,” George said.

With this vote, new metal poles will be located on the south side of Main Street, from the power substation to Sullivan. The poles from the substation to Centennial Park will be removed.

“Main Street is a gateway into our downtown, and I see this as a first step into getting us into the General Shale site,” Clark said. “It’s not ideal, but it’s better than doing nothing.”

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