The entrance in question is the CSX bridge over Wilcox Drive. A bridge thousands of people pass under every day. It’s one of the gateways into downtown Kingsport, and for years city leaders have placed a focus on improving the look of many of the city’s entrances.
Ryan McReynolds, assistant city manager for operations, said the plan is for Kingsport to repaint the bridge (with a CSX-approved coating of course), landscape the four quadrants around the bridge and put the word “Kingsport” on the Eastman side of it.
Funding for the project will come from AEP franchise fee money, though the actual cost is not known at this time. City leaders hope work could begin later this year.
But first, CSX will have to review Kingsport’s plan for the bridge. Last week, the Board of Mayor and Alderman signed off on a $10,000 agreement with CSX to do just that.
Nicer signs have been installed and improved landscaping has taken place at many of the entrances to the city, including on Stone Drive, the John B. Dennis Highway and on Wilcox Drive. Improving the look of this bridge has been discussed for several years, most recently during the One Kingsport summit.
But it actually dates back further.
Development Services Director Lynn Tully said the idea originated from a Downtown Kingsport Association design committee, but at the time there wasn’t enough money or grants with the committee to fund the project. The Model City Coalition plan also mentioned improvements to all of Kingsport’s downtown gateways.
“We’ve been working towards this from several angles for several years,” Tully said.