BMA Candidate Series Day One: Kingsport's streets

Kingsport workers doing paving near the Renaissance Center and Sumpter Road.

KINGSPORT — A one-time financial boost to the city’s paving budget has gone from a “possibility” to a “reality.”

And as a result, Kingsport will now be spending $7.5 million on the paving of city streets over a 24-month period.

This financial boost became a reality recently when the Board of Mayor and Aldermen decided to earmark $500,000 in end-of-year money to leverage an additional $2 million in federal funds through the Kingsport Municipal Transportation Planning Organization.

Here’s how it works:

— The Kingsport Municipal Transportation Planning Organization is a board made up of local government and transportation agencies. It’s responsible for the planning and implementation of transportation projects throughout the greater Kingsport area.

— Dollars from the organization require a 20 percent local match. The $500,000 from Kingsport will be that local match.

— The types of streets to be paved with this money will be collector and minor arterial roads. Examples of such streets include Watauga, Eastman Road and Meadowview Parkway. However, no decision has been made on which streets would be repaved with this money.

The condition of Kingsport’s roads was a major issue during the May city election, with then-candidate Pat Shull saying the city needed to do more to address the condition of its streets. After being elected mayor, Shull talked about a desire to inject $500,000 into the paving budget. The idea was discussed by the BMA over the summer and officially put into place earlier this month.

City Manager Chris McCartt said the summer of 2020 would be the best-case scenario on when the paving would begin. Since it’s state and federal money, Kingsport would have to follow state requirements for design and construction, which typically takes longer than city-funded road projects.

Though the work will take longer than normal, the payout will be worth it, McCartt noted, especially “if you can take $500,000 and convert it into $2.5 million and do so with existing dollars.”