Sidewalk project starting this summer, after being approved nearly five years ago

Matthew Lane • May 24, 2013 at 4:26 PM

KINGSPORT — Sidewalk improvements are coming later this summer to two Kingsport

elementary schools.

And it only took nearly five years for work to

start.In October 2008, then-Gov. Phil Bredesen announced Kingsport would

receive a $215,000 Safe Routes to School grant for sidewalk and crosswalk

improvements at Kennedy and Roosevelt elementary schools, along with educational

programs and promotional activities to encourage walking and

biking.Since then work has been delayed by stimulus-funded re-paving

projects, two rounds of bidding where the bids came in way over budget and all

along the way, the Tennessee Department of Transportation had to approve every

step of the process.To get the project back on track, Kingsport had to

reduce the scope by about two-thirds , said Michael Thompson, assistant public

works director for the city.

The original project included adding 1,400

linear feet of sidewalk at Kennedy and 1,700 linear feet of sidewalk at

Roosevelt. With the change in scope, Roosevelt will lose the new section of

sidewalk slated for Lake Street and at Kennedy, the sidewalk behind the school

from Sunset Avenue will be removed from the project.Now, both schools

will receive a total of 1,100 feet of sidewalks.Duco Construction was

the low bidder for the project at $123,150 and a pre-construction conference was

held earlier this month. Thompson said Duco is scheduled to begin work June 3

and be complete by Aug. 30.In comparison, Kingsport has built nearly two

miles of sidewalk down Wilcox Drive to the new aquatic center in less than a


That work did not involve state funds.Of the original Safe

Routes to School grant, approximately $187,000 was for construction and $28,000

for educational purposes. Since the low bid came in at $123,150, that leaves

approximately $64,000 left over.“There is a CEI (Construction

Engineering Inspector) that has to be hired. We’re required to have a certified

CEI and our city inspectors do not have that level of training, so we have to

hire outside for that,” Thompson said. “And there’s a six-percent contingency.

Whatever is left at the end of the project will be turned back in to the state

to re-distribute out to future projects.”However, given that the most

recent federal authorization does not include any funding for the Safe Routes to

Schools program, there may not be any money to re-distribute.Since

receiving the first Safe Routes to Schools grant more than four years ago,

Kingsport has receive two additional ones.The second grant came in June

2010 for $172,824 and is intended to build 1,110 feet of sidewalks, handicap

ramps, bridge security features and crosswalk improvements around Andrew Jackson

Elementary School.The environmental document has been approved and TDOT

gave Kingsport notice to proceed with the design phase of the

project.“The plans are near completion and we’re working on getting it

submitted to TDOT for approval,” Thompson said. “Once TDOT is happy with the

documents, they’ll give us a notice to proceed with the construction and allow

us to advertise the project. Realistically, we’ll begin next

spring.”Kingsport will have to obtain right-of-way access with one

property, also requiring TDOT approval. Estimated cost of the project is

$134,000.The third Safe Routes to Schools grant came in January 2012 for

$46,200 and is to provide bicycle and pedestrian safety education at 11 city

schools. The BMA approved a measure earlier this month on how the funds would be

allocated.According to the measure, the safety education includes the

purchase of technology and literature ($15,250), incentives and contests

($11,750), supplies and equipment ($5,000), promotion and advertising ($4,000)

and a public awareness campaign ($3,000).

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