Last month the Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a measure for the city to apply for a $400,000 Transportation Alternatives Grant with the Tennessee Department of Transportation. Kingsport should hear back this fall on whether or not it receives the grant.
Chris Campbell, transportation planning coordinator for the city, said the plan is for the city to use the funds to extend the Greenbelt about one mile, from the .4 mile marker near the Exchange Place (where the path is gravel) toward Reedy Creek and potentially connect with the Shoppes at East Stone shopping center.
“People could use the trail to go to Target, but then it would continue eastward on to Cleek Road,” Campbell said.
Last year, Kingsport closed a portion of Cleek Road for a major realignment and widening project, creating a four-way intersection at Lamberth Street. Built into that project is a new bridge, raising the road with a tunnel at Reedy Creek, much like was done recently at Gibson Mill Road.
Campbell said the new trail extension would not only be for recreation purposes but also for transportation purposes.
Kingsport does not own the property along the proposed extension; a majority of the property is owned by the Exchange Place and the whole area is located within a flood plain. If Kingsport receives the grant, Campbell said the city would then begin negotiating with property owners.
The grant calls for $100,000 in matching funds and would likely be included in the city’Â’s 2015 capital improvement plan. Campbell said the current grant application would cover roughly half the cost of the overall project or about half a mile.
“The governor has the final say-so and this has been prioritized. If we don’Â’t receive it this year, we’Â’ll apply for it next year,” Campbell said, noting next Spring would be the best-case scenario on when construction could start.
The Kingsport Greenbelt is a nine-mile walking and biking trail more than 20 years in the making and stretches from one end of the city to the other, from the Exchange Place to Riverfront Park.
Kingsport has two other phases of work for the Greenbelt in the pipeline, the first being the final section of the main, nine-mile trunk line, a small section from Barton Street to Riverfront Park.
Kitty Frazier, parks and recreation director, said the city is still working on property acquisitions and right-of-way approvals for this round of work. Kingsport plans to fund this phase with $190,000 in grant funds left over from another section of the Greenbelt.
The second extension currently in the works is for the western end of the Greenbelt, going from the confluence of the Holston River at Riverfront Park across the old Rotherwood Bridge and down Netherland Inn Road.
Kingsport was awarded a $652,000 federal Transportation Enhancement Grant about 18 months ago for this project and officially received the funds back in August. Frazier said the city has submitted documents to the state for the required environmental review and is currently awaiting approvals, which could take five to six months to complete.
Total cost of this project is estimated to be $815,712, with the remaining $163,144 coming from the city.