The paving of roads is a consistent top priority for our citizens. Under the city’s hierarchy of needs, roads are a foundational fundamental, a basic need that is important to maintain to keep all traveling safely and effectively. Paving, as it relates to transportation infrastructure, is critical in supporting and obtaining economic growth and development.

Kingsport is now ready to embark upon a sustainable paving plan to address the needs of our current roads. Typically, the paving rotation for a road is every 20-25 years, and over the next five years, the city will work towards establishing this length of paving cycle.  In the past, paving has been severely underfunded, almost double the recommended cycle, and now the city has the opportunity to appropriately take care of an essential service.

Currently, Kingsport is conducting a paving test on every street. The paving test, being completed by Barge Waggoner Sumner & Cannon, is set to take place this month. Using radar, the paving tests will result in an assessment of all city-managed streets, showing their condition and determining the level of repair needed. A master roadmap will be developed from the tests to create and implement the sustainable paving plan.

“The need for paving is something we hear often from citizens, and we finally can start to address the issue,” said city manager Jeff Fleming. “I do believe the sustainable paving plan is a game changer for Kingsport and will increase the potential to attract and retain residents, visitors, businesses and developers.

In addition to standard paving, a concrete crew will be dedicated to the construction and repair of concrete assets, such as sidewalks, curbs and concrete streets.

An enhancement crew will also be used, and this crew will maintain and elevate the level of service at the city’s key areas, such as gateways, downtown areas and major intersections.

Finally, a mowing crew will provide finished mowing and a higher level of landscape maintenance along I-26 from Rock Springs to MeadowView in an effort to improve one of the main entrances to Kingsport.

The sustainable paving plan for Kingsport is made possible through the American Electric Power (AEP) franchise fee. A power franchise fee is an industry standard payment common to most cities.

The City of Kingsport had a 99-year agreement with AEP, and since 2011, the city and AEP have worked together to formulate a plan moving forward, as the original contract ended this year. A committee was formed to investigate and research other franchise fees.

Companies, such as AEP, providing residents and businesses a service in a specific geographic area that have been granted the right to serve, are able to provide a funding source back to the community through the city. AEP and the City of Kingsport have a 20-year agreement at this time.

We look forward to evaluating this program over the next few years to see the much-needed improvements that have been made to our roads, rights-of-way and sidewalks.