Driving on a bad road is frustrating, uncomfortable and could cause significant damage to your vehicle. It should come as no surprise that the paving of city streets is a big deal for most motorists in the Model City.
City and elected officials know this all too well, which is why in recent years Kingsport has worked to implement a sustainable paving program where every street for which the city is responsible (roughly 500 miles) is paved every 20 to 25 years, rather than the typical 50- to 55-year paving cycle.
“Paving was usually done with whatever we scraped together at the end of the year,” City Manager Jeff Fleming told the Board of Mayor and Aldermen earlier this year.
Kingsport simply did not have a dedicated funding source to achieve this goal. But now it does by tapping into the $3.79 million the city receives from AEP under a new power franchise agreement that went into effect this year.
In recent years, Kingsport has allocated approximately $650,000 a year for street resurfacing. This year the figure rose to about $1.3 million; next year it will stand at about $1.7 million, and beginning in 2019, Kingsport should reach its goal of $2.1 million, thus hitting the funding target for a 20- to 25-year turnaround on paving.
But what does the average citizen think about the condition of the roads in Kingsport? The Times-News recently spoke with a few people about the issue. Here are their answers. Nearly all of the people interviewed did not know the city has earmarked additional money for paving.
Sonya Clark, a secretary from Church Hill
“I’m here every day and they’re in bad shape, especially East Sevier. You would think it would be in better shape because ambulances go to the hospital that way.”
Jack Kilday, retiree from Kingsport
“There’s just a lot of potholes, and it seems to me they’re doing streets that they should wait on and do other streets that are in really bad shape, like some of these side streets.”
Kevin Ewers, certified public accountant from Kingsport
“I think they’re terrible, and I think we’ve gone way too long without beginning to start to fix the problem.”
Amy Boyles, business and communications administrator at Waverly Road Presbyterian Church
“There are areas that need work of course, and for safety reasons we need to keep our streets up the best we can. Work crews know more than anybody else where the bad areas are. (Kingsport) needs to listen to the work crews who are out every single day.”
Ruth Phillips, retiree from Kingsport
“Downtown is OK. Fort Robinson is not good, but I don’t get around a lot.”
Dennis Marshall, disabled from Kingsport
“I think they’re pretty sorry. Instead of just patching, I think they should go ahead and do the whole thing, like they did on Lynn Garden Drive or Wilcox. Streets here have not been touched in years.”