Greenbelt extension back on track

Matthew Lane • Sep 12, 2016 at 8:00 PM

KINGSPORT — After nearly a year of inactivity, the Greenbelt extension near the Rotherwood community is back on track, the trail has been slightly revised and construction is expected to begin in the coming weeks.

The Rotherwood Greenbelt extension project dates back five years when Kingsport received a $652,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation to extend the Greenbelt from the confluence of the Holston River across the old Rotherwood bridge and down Netherland Inn Road to Rotherwood Drive.

Once complete, the Greenbelt will be extended nearly 1,200 feet with wooden boardwalks built underneath the bridge and looping up the banks on both sides of the river.

During a recent Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, city leaders approved a third change order for the project, adding slightly more than $30,000 to the total cost. Once done, the project will have cost $713,000.

Assistant Public Works Director Michael Thompson said the latest change to the project had to do with a shift in the trail on the Hawkins County side of the road.

“They built the section underneath the bridges, and when we turned the corner to start up in front of Rotherwood Mansion, we realized there was some utility issues there. There were some utilities that were there that we didn't realize were there,” Thompson said. “The most sensible solution was to move the path away from the road, which required buying some property off of the Rotherwood Mansion property owner. We met with the owner, explained everything, and they were all for it.”

Duco Construction, the company performing the work, finished up with the boardwalk extension on the Sullivan County side and a portion of it on the Hawkins County side in the fall of 2015. What remains is extending the Greenbelt up the hill near Big Elm Road and down Netherland Inn Road to Rotherwood Drive.

“We've given the contractor the green light, and now it's a matter of them re-mobilizing. I'm thinking (Duco will start) in the next couple of weeks,” Thompson said.

The concrete path will basically make a 90-degree turn near Big Elm Road, come up the hill and tie into the old Rotherwood bridge. There has been some talk among city staff about acquiring another piece of property near the river and extending the Greenbelt further down Big Elm. Kingsport already owns another piece of property in the vicinity.

“Because it's a TDOT process, we could only buy what we needed for the active project,” Thompson said. “We're going to look at trying to get the property down the road, I think. That was the plan.”

The current contract for the Rotherwood Greenbelt extension is Nov. 1. Thompson said he plans to speak with Duco officials about their confidence in completing the project by the deadline. If their confidence is low, Thompson said he plans to ask TDOT for an extension.

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