KINGSPORT — Construction on the next section of sidewalk stretching down Wilcox Drive to the Kingsport aquatic center is set to begin on Monday. However, a city official said last week the entire sidewalk would not likely be complete before the aquatic center opens in May — a promise made by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen several years ago.
During BMA discussions on where to locate the aquatic center, board members brought up the issue of how people would have a hard time walking to the new facility, noting how children and adults walk and bicycle from nearby neighborhoods to Legion Pool.
At the time, city staff said the aquatic center would be included as a destination for KATS (Kingsport Area Transit System) and that either a sidewalk or a mobility path would accommodate walkers and bikers.
Last fall, the first section of the mobility path was built — from Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to Industry Road — with the low bid coming in at $83,000 by Bracken and Associates.
Phase two of the project is being done by Summers Taylor at a cost of $230,000 — an 8-foot wide section from the Meadowview Parkway to the BP gas station.
Assistant Public Works Director Michael Thompson said work on this phase is scheduled to begin Monday and take approximately 90 days to complete.
“Until we knew what TDOT was going to make us do with the bridge, we jumped out and started working our way from Meadowview Parkway back towards town,” Thompson explained.
Last week, Kingsport advertised in the Times-News for phase three of the project, from the BP gas station to the sluice bridge with a bid opening date of Feb. 14. The work will include building a mobility path, but in some sections Thompson said only some striping would be needed in some of the paved parking lots that front Wilcox Drive.
Phase three will likely cost in excess of $100,000.
And as for phase four — the section over the sluice bridge and the Wilcox Drive bridge — Thompson said TDOT has allowed Kingsport to build a 7-foot-wide, raised mobility path across both. This section is currently being designed and cost estimates developed.
“(The acceleration lane) will be removed and people will come up and stop like at most side streets, but we’re not reducing the amount of room trucks have to maneuver,” he said. “(The intersection) has a painted island in the middle. That will become a raised island to give pedestrians a refuge island and the deceleration lane will remain. We feel like it will be a safe situation.”
Thompson said a time frame on when phase four would be bid has not been determined.
Once complete, the mobility path will be 7 to 8 feet wide, mostly concrete, and run about two miles down Wilcox Drive to the aquatic center.
To fund the project, the BMA allocated $500,000 in two different bond issuances. Thompson said phase three of the project would likely deplete the funds, noting that funding will determine whether the entire mobility path is complete by the middle of May, when the aquatic center is scheduled to open.
“It’s a very tight time frame right now and I don’t see how that section will be completed before May,” he said. “It just depends on funding.”