Phase 2 of Rock Springs Road improvements set to begin soon

Matthew Lane • May 5, 2013 at 11:39 PM

KINGSPORT — In about a month, Rock Springs Road will be under construction again, this time with road improvements stretching from Rock Springs Valley Road to Cox Hollow Road.

The project, dubbed Rock Springs Road Phase 2, consists of widening a 3,000-foot stretch of Rock Springs Road, along with other roadway improvements such as installing new water lines and fire hydrants, some curb and gutter work, landscaping and extending the existing mobility path.

Tim Elsea, Kingsport’s traffic engineer, said the latest project basically picks up from the first round of improvements along Rock Springs Road. Two years ago, Thomas Construction widened and improved nearly 3,400 feet of Rock Springs Road under a $1.5 million contract with the city of Kingsport.

For phase two, Thomas Construction was again the low bidder at $1.75 million. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen earlier this month approved the contract and Elsea said work is expected to begin in late May or early June.

“(Thomas Construction) is going to be smoothing out some of the vertical curves, cutting down one hill where the project starts and filling in another one about halfway through,” Elsea said, noting the work will essentially improve the vertical geometry of the roadway.

Elsea said the contractor is not expected to do any traffic calming measures during phase two, as the conditions of the road do not warrant them, and once work wraps up the speed limit on this section of roadway will be 35 miles per hour.

In addition, Elsea said this phase of work does not call for ditches across the property. During the first phase, ditches were dug across a number of residents’ properties, significantly impacting their front yards. Eventually, Kingsport filled the unneeded ditch lines and corrected the front yards impacted by the work.

“We feel like we’ve hopefully addressed all of the right-of-way issues and did not take the amount of property as did with the first phase, where some people’s front yards were drastically cut into unnecessarily,” Elsea said. “That was a lesson learned with phase one.”

The projected end date of the project is Nov. 15 and the section of roadway will be closed during the entire construction process, Elsea said, but not before May 27.

“That’s because of schools,” Elsea said. “They can start work before May 27, but they have to have conditions for flagging and maintaining traffic for schools. We’re trying not to impact both school years and work will just impact the start of school next year.”

The overall improvement of Rock Springs Road includes a third phase of work, from Cox Hollow Road to Interstate 26, but since this portion of road is a state route, the Tennessee Department of Transportation will oversee the work.

The traffic count along this section of Rock Springs Road is approximately 2,500 vehicles per day; in 2007, the number was 3,000 vehicles per day.

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