For nearly 30 years, the Greenbelt has been helping people connect with nature and improve their health by offering a convenient and accessible trail from one end of the town to the other, stretching from the Exchange Place in the east to Riverfront Park in the west.
It has connected folks to neighborhoods, parks, schools, the downtown area and many businesses along the way. And now, it’s reach will soon grow even further.
The city plans to extend the Greenbelt from the 0.4 mile marker near Orebank Road to the pedestrian path on Cleek Road. The new asphalt addition will be about one mile long, 10 feet wide and will include a 325-foot timber frame pedestrian bridge similar to the one on the western end of the Greenbelt.
Assistant City Manager for Administration Chris McCartt said Kingsport is evaluating a future project to add a parking lot along Cleek Road.
The Board of Mayor and Aldermen earlier this month awarded a $940,000 contract to Glass Machinery & Excavation (of Jonesville, Va.) for the eastern extension. Approximately 80 percent of the nearly $1 million project will come from a state grant. The remainder will come from the city.
McCartt said construction should begin in the early spring and be completed by late fall.
On the western end of town, Kingsport hopes to extend the Greenbelt from Rotherwood Drive down Netherland Inn Road and to Lewis Lane. The extension would be roughly 0.6 miles long.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation chose not to award Kingsport a grant for this project; therefore, the city refiled its application last fall. McCartt said the city should get a response from TDOT this summer, and if the application is approved, construction would begin in 2021.
The amount being requested is nearly $800,000, which would cover 80 percent of the project.
“I think (with grants) it depends on what your competition is,” McCartt said. “These are competitive grants from Memphis to Mountain City, and as with any competition for the appropriation of funds, there’s going to be some really stellar projects that need a lot of money. Based on the amount of dollars being awarded, it’s going to potentially kick some out that are good.”