KINGSPORT — The city of Kingsport is asking the Tennessee Department of Transportation to add a 6-foot-wide sidewalk across the Orebank Road bridge while it is under reconstruction for the next eight months.
Last month, TDOT began work to repair the Orebank Road bridge at a cost of $700,000. The project entails the full deck replacement of the bridge, removing all of the concrete from the steel beams, and replacing one of the beams.
The repair work will limit the width of vehicles crossing the bridge and will require intermittent lane closures in both directions and on John B. Dennis Highway as well. The repair work was not due to a structural problem with the bridge. This project is estimated to be complete by Sept. 30.
Chris Campbell, Metropolitan Planning Organization coordinator for the city, said he sent a letter to TDOT on Monday asking the department to include a 6-foot-wide sidewalk on the north side of the bridge. The bridge currently has 2Â½-foot sidewalks on both sides, but the reconstruction project does not call for any sidewalks.
“We were not informed early on that TDOT was going to let that project. They sent out an e-mail a couple of days before it hit the (paper). We were thinking internally and received comments from citizens asking if they were going to build a sidewalk,” Campbell said. “In the packet of information we sent, we took some pictures and requested they add to the north side a 6-foot-wide sidewalk/bike path with a curb.”
Once work is complete, the Orebank Bridge will be 32 feet wide, with the deck being a level slab without a sidewalk. The two sidewalks that exist today are not ADA compliant. Campbell said if TDOT denies the request, the city could go back once work is finished and re-stripe the road to include a lane for pedestrians.
There’s a city initiative to extend sidewalks to the bridge and increase pedestrian traffic to the Greenbelt.
“This makes logical sense to add a 6-foot sidewalk,” Campbell said.
Sidewalks do not extend to the bridge. However, a sidewalk does stretch from the Greenbelt to Stage Coach Road. Neighboring residents have shown an interest in seeing more sidewalks in the Orebank community, particularly to the Greenbelt.
Campbell said he spoke to a TDOT official who said the department would wait to decide on whether to add a sidewalk to the bridge until it received the letter and considered the information.