Street survey vehicle

This van can be seen driving around Kingsport for the next couple of weeks, surveying the 500 miles of city streets with 3-D laser imaging. The information will allow the city to rank its streets from worst to best in order to determine which ones need to be resurfaced.

KINGSPORT — The Model City is once again taking inventory of nearly every street in town.

No, none of the streets is missing. The inventory is of the condition of all of the roads maintained by the city throughout the year.

It’s a process that ranks the roughly 500 miles of city roads from best to worst, which will then allow the city to know which ones need a new coat of asphalt.

The inventory is done by a specialized vehicle that drives every city road, shooting lidar (3-D laser scanning) down on the roadway and assessing condition and determining cracks. Roadway Asset Services of Austin, Texas, will be performing the work at a cost of approximately $100,000.

“Technology has got to the point where it can receive microscopic information related to the roadway surface,” said Deputy City Manager Ryan McReynolds. “(The vehicle) gathers information and a computer program takes it and rates roadway segments in a way you’re able to objectively determine the worst ones in the city.”


The vehicle in question is a van, and it started surveying the streets in September. McReynolds said the work should take about a month to complete.

The van has digital cameras that will collect imagery on all pavement and above ground, transportation-related assets located within the right-of-way, such as sidewalks, curb lines and catch basins.

This imagery will then be used to create a digital image inventory. A similar assessment was done in Kingsport in 2016 and was the baseline data for the city’s prioritized paving plan. McReynolds said the city plans to do surveys every five years.


For the past five years, Kingsport has been working toward a sustainable paving program where every city-owned street in town is paved every 20 to 25 years, rather than the previous 50- to 55-year paving cycle.

According to the 2021 paving plan, more than $12 million worth of street resurfacing will take place this year, money that will come from the city itself and from the state of Tennessee.

This current assessment will survey roughly 500 miles of city streets, excluding roads owned and maintained by the state or federal government. The final report will likely be done by winter.

“It’ll rank the neighborhoods from the worst condition streets on up to the best,” McReynolds said. “As we do this every five years, that will allow us to see the rate of failure and degradation, even predict when neighborhoods would be next in the (paving) cycle.”

For more information about the survey call (423) 229-9451.

Recommended Videos

Recommended for you