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Major rebuild coming for Main Street

Matthew Lane • Sep 14, 2015 at 2:55 PM

KINGSPORT - The Kingsport Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization is recommending $1.7 million towards improving the entire length of Main Street from Clinchfield Street to Sullivan Street.

Downtown motorists will likely appreciate the recommendation.

Main Street – particularly the section near the core of downtown - has been deteriorating for years, the road is littered with cracks and potholes and though portions have been patched, the repairs have not made much of a difference.

Some would argue it's made the driving situation worse.

Ryan McReynolds, assistant city manager for operations, said the condition on Main Street has been an issue long identified by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen as needing attention.

“Main Street has gone into failure mode,” McReynolds said. “It's beyond just the asphalt. The soil underneath it has failed and is unsuitable.”

Over the past century, the soils that support the roadway have weakened tremendously. If only repaved, Main Street’s new asphalt surface will begin to fail within the first few years. Therefore, fixing the root cause of the failure, the unsuitable soil conditions, is the primary goal of this project, city officials say.

Additionally, it is anticipated that streetscape enhancement will create a much more pleasing entry into downtown.

“Main Street is a main gateway into Downtown Kingsport,” said City Manager Jeff Fleming. “We want it to be an inviting corridor that encourages and supports reinvestment.”

Originally, the scope of the project was to repair Main Street in just the core of downtown, but as city staff and elected officials discussed the matter more, McReynolds said the city felt it more prudent to leverage the project with MPO funding and extend the repairs from Sullivan Street to Clinchfield Street.

The Kingsport MPO is a federally mandated organization charged with the planning and programming of federal and regionally significant transportation activities within the greater Kingsport area. The BMA allocated $500,000 in last year's capital improvement plan for the Main Street project and this money will be used as the city's match in order to secure the additional MPO funds.

The MPO's recommendation puts in motion the design process, which could take up to 12 months. Assuming no delays work should begin in the spring of 2017.

“We're going through the process of seeing if there's any improvements we need to address related to the businesses we now have (on Main Street) that we didn't have before,” McReynolds said. “Is there a need for pedestrian crosswalks or more parking.”

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