KINGSPORT — The utility poles along the north side of Sullivan Street will soon be coming down once work wraps up in the coming weeks on the first phase of an improvement project for the heavily traveled downtown road.
Thomas Construction began installing an underground utility conduit along the north side of Sullivan Street on Sept. 17, and according to Kingsport Assistant Public Works Director Michael Thompson, the work should wrap up in the next two to three weeks.
“(Thomas Construction) is putting the conduit in for CenturyLink and Charter to take their facilities underground — their transmission lines that go through and serve other places. The service to the houses along Sullivan Street will be done from the back rather than the front,” Thompson said, noting AEP’s lines are already feeding those houses from the back.
Once the conduit work wraps up, the utility poles will be coming down along the Park Hill side of the street, Thompson said, from roughly the alley between Shelby Street and Clay Street to the bridge over Reedy Creek.
“Eventually, we’re hoping when we do the whole project, move the lines over to Press Street and remove the poles on the south side of Sullivan Street,” Thompson said. “We would like to do the decorative streetlights on the south side since the only need for power through there is for the parking lot lights at IGA.
“If we come up with an alternative route, then that clears that up.”
The utility relocation work is the first part of the first phase of an overarching widening and improvement of Sullivan Street.
Beginning in January, Thomas Construction will begin work on improving the Clinchfield Street/Sullivan Street intersection, roughly one block on either side of the intersection. Thompson said crews will rebuild and widen the intersection to three lanes, removing some of the older water lines and installing new water lines across Sullivan at Roller Street.
The intersection would be a concrete roadway, as authorized by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen earlier this year, with 10-foot travel lanes and an 11-foot center lane. Both traffic signals at Clinchfield and Roller will be rebuilt during the project, but city crews will be performing the work to help save money, Thompson said.
This first phase of work also calls for an 8-foot-wide mobility path along the north side of Sullivan and a sidewalk on the south side.
The intersection work will likely begin in January and run through April or May. Estimated cost for the first phase of work is $926,000, Thompson said.
Ultimately, the city of Kingsport is planning to widen and improve Sullivan Street from near Church Circle to Lynn Garden Drive, and earlier this year the BMA made the project a top priority among the city’s road projects over the next five years. Of the $13.5 million earmarked for road projects in the city’s five-year capital improvement plan, $4 million was set aside for the Sullivan Street project.
Much like East Sevier Street, city leaders plan to replace the asphalt along Sullivan with concrete, a costlier option but one that is better in the long run, BMA members have said during several discussions on the widening project earlier this year.