Last year, Kingsport leaders got the ball rolling to enhance one of the main entrances into downtown: the CSX bridges over Wilcox Drive. The plan is to give the bridges a fresh coat of paint, to paint “Kingsport” on the bridge facing Eastman and to landscape the four quadrants of the intersection.
Thousands of people pass under these bridges every day, the intersection is one of the main gateways into downtown, and for years municipal leaders have focused on improving the look of many of the city’s entrances.
Earlier this month, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a construction agreement with CSX in the amount of $33,550. Ryan McReynolds, assistant city manager for operations, explains what this money is going toward.
“It’s not our bridge and to re-coat (CSX’s) bridge there are certain costs they’re going to incur. This contract covers those costs,” McReynolds said.
Those costs include previous and future plan review, ensuring the bridges are coated to CSX specifications, and once the work begins, having a railroad inspector — essentially a flagman — onsite to make sure train traffic is not impeded by the project.
“(CSX) is making sure they cover their costs. We’re going back to cover costs already incurred and the costs going forward,” McReynolds said.
Last year, Kingsport paid CSX $10,000 for an initial engineering review of the project. Both sets of money came from AEP franchise fee revenue.
The type of paint being used is akin to what Kingsport uses on its steel water tanks. It’s not something you can buy at a local hardware store. It’s more of an industrial-type paint and geared toward the protection of the bridge.
McReynolds said the landscaping will clean up the slopes on both sides of the railroad tracks, and instead of having just whatever plants and trees that have grown there voluntarily, more directed plantings and mulching will take place.
The estimated cost of the painting and landscaping is $325,000. Kingsport anticipates bidding the project this spring and performing the work during the summer, with the landscaping possibly extending into early fall.