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The smell of fresh asphalt is unmistakable, and residents of Kingsport’s West View Park are getting accustomed to it. In recent weeks, city crews have been hard at work milling pavement and repaving streets in that section. Between now and next July, more than $3.5 million in additional street resurfacing is planned.

The condition of city streets has been the top priority of the current administration because it remains the top complaint of residents. Mayor Pat Shull won a decisive victory in May of last year promising to focus on street repair, and he has made good on that commitment as the city budget allows.

In addition to neighborhood paving, the city will be resurfacing such roads as Fall Creek, Moreland Drive, Cooks Valley and Netherland Inn Road. Some of the work has been contracted out, Fairview Avenue for instance. But the Kingsport Public Works Department is more than proficient at street work and recently handed members of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen a new paving plan for the current fiscal year that began July 1.

Officials were hoping to do about $4 million worth of paving this fiscal year 2021, but due to financial restraints caused by the pandemic, that’s been cut by a half-million dollars. Still, that will fund a lot of work in the city’s paving plan breakdown, which focuses first on streets in the worst condition, then on main road paving, which is contracted out, and neighborhood paving.

The city has already repaved portions of Mitchell Road, Fordtown Road and Pickens Road. The Tennessee Department of Transportation has repaved Fort Henry Drive from Center to Midland and plans to repave Industry Drive later this year. The city also hopes to begin work on Main Street from Sullivan Street to Clinchfield Street.

Among the worst streets on a priority list are Arrowhead Trail, Aurowood Drive, a section including Avalon, Harris, DeSoto, Hilltop and Pierce Street, Bancroft Chapel Road, Barger Place, Bellwood Place, Bridwell Street, Blakemore Drive, Carter Street, Dunbar Street, Dupont Circle, Glen Eden Road, Green Spring Circle, Inglewood Drive, Lexington Lane, Reedy Creek Road, Spring Street, Springfield Avenue, Steeplechase Court and Stuart Drive.

Deputy City Manager Ryan McReynolds said the city hopes to repave at least half of those streets by the end of the year.

“Our goal is to do (roadway assessment) every five years. It shows us the effectiveness (of the sustainable paving program) and lets us know if we’ve moved the needle as a city,” McReynolds said. “We’ll be able to compare how the roads were five years ago to what they are now.”

The city seems to be taking a break from a recent history of major projects to turn more attention to infrastructure, and we’ve no doubt that residents applaud it.

Street repair was on a back burner until residents got up in arms in recent years, and this program should remain a priority going forward.