KINGSPORT — The Model City is planning to put Center Street on a diet.
Next year, the Tennessee Department of Transportation is planning to re-pave portions of Stone Drive, Lynn Garden Drive and Center Street. Since those streets will have to be re-striped after the paving takes place, Assistant City Manager Jeff Fleming said now is a good time to look at reconfiguring the traffic lanes along Center Street.
The reconfiguration is something the Federal Highway Administration calls a “road diet” — converting an undivided four-lane road into three lanes, with two being travel lanes and a center, two- way left turn lane.
Fleming said such a change would improve safety, better manage the flow of traffic through downtown and possibly create better economic opportunities for businesses fronting Center Street.
Examples of the change can be found along Center Street behind Dobyns-Bennett High School and from Eastman Road to Memorial Boulevard.
Kingsport has asked TDOT to consider a road diet for the nine downtown blocks of Center Street, from Sullivan to Clinchfield, Fleming said. The reconfiguration would create a few feet of buffer space on both sides of the road for parallel parking. Fleming said that space will also double as bike lanes.
“TDOT is going to repaint the road anyway, they’ll just repaint it a little differently,” Fleming said. “Part of the thinking is it makes it more desirable to have businesses fronting Center Street and accommodates a similar number of cars, but in a more orderly fashion."
Read more in the Friday print edition of the Times-News or in the expanded electronic edition.