KINGSPORT — The developers of a 330-home neighborhood in the Rock Springs community recently made a goodwill gesture and led the charge on repairing a dangerous and problematic section of Rock Springs Road.
For more than two years, The Edinburgh Group has been working to develop a new 330-home neighborhood off Rock Springs Road called The Edinburgh. Earlier this month, the group funded work to improve a 400-foot stretch of Rock Springs Road that contained two breaking curves with a severe hump.
Danny Karst, spokesman for the group, said he got the idea to improve the road during a hard rain back in July.
“There was a real severe hump there, and there’s been, over the course of time, accidents at that location. A family was killed there in the 1950s, and recently some young men flipped their vehicle,” Karst said. “There was a real severe blind spot in it.”
Karst said he approached City Manager John Campbell and worked out a partnership where The Edinburgh Group would fund the grading and engineering for the work, and the city would handle the paving, curbing, drainage and installing a turn lane.
“I went to Campbell and said we would reach our hand out if you would reach yours out,” Karst said.
The three-day job took place on a weekend earlier this month, and now that section of road has been widened and straightened, the severe hump has been removed, and the shoulders of the road have been increased. Within the next three to four weeks, Kingsport hopes to start installing sidewalks along that area of road.
Ryan McReynolds, public works director, said he thought the project was fantastic — it was done quickly and saved the city some money.
“This is the initial project for what we plan for the entire Rock Springs corridor, taking the segments of Rock Springs Road that feel more like a county road and bring them to more of a safe standard,” McReynolds said, noting Kingsport has earmarked $200,000 in safety improvements to Rock Springs Road. “This was a high nail in that.”
Karst said there were several reasons for wanting to improve the road, in addition to safety. Karst said when his son was 5 years old he was struck by a vehicle in a blind spot in a road. And in all fairness, Karst said, The Edinburgh Group has changed the landscape of the Rock Springs community.
The Edinburgh development has shaken up the Rock Springs community — up to 330 homes are proposed to be built, a new 500-student elementary school is going up on the property as well, and the development essentially set the course of where Kings- port plans to annex over the last two and next three years.
“Some people of Rock Springs had asked, what are you going to do for us, and I knew that was such a severe problem — seeing the cars go over it and being scared something was going to happen,” Karst said. “I saw it more as an opportunity.”
McReynolds said an effort such as this is pretty rare for residential developers to step forward and partner with the city to make road improvements. The developers of Kingsport Pavilion handled the improvements to Stone Drive, installing turn lanes to support the shopping center.
“Not only did (The Edinburgh Group) do this for the development, but they made a pretty dangerous location much safer for the whole community.”