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Kingsport's new transit center on the road to completion

Matthew Lane • Mar 11, 2019 at 11:05 AM

KINGSPORT — The Kingsport Area Transit Service (KATS) is just a few months away from opening the doors on its new facility — a larger, more convenient transit center located at one of the main gateways to downtown.

The $5.5 million, state-of-the-art facility is being built at the corner of Main and Sullivan streets and has been under construction since October 2017.

Chris Campbell, the city’s public transportation manager, said work on the facility is about 85 percent complete and though no official completion date has been set, work should be wrapping up by late spring or early summer.

“We’re months away from getting in here,” Campbell said. “We’re in the final stages.”

ABOUT THE FACILITY

The new transit center greatly improves upon its current Clay Street location. It will be much bigger — 6,500 square feet — and include a lobby with seating for passengers, more restrooms (men’s, women’s and a family one), a larger dispatch center (that can see the buses roll in), a driver’s area, conference rooms, administrative offices and a small workout room for the drivers.

Outside are 12 slots for buses, shelters with benches, bike racks and a small parking lot for staff. The center of the plaza will have stamped, decorative concrete, room for public art and landscaping around the exterior. The building itself has a similar look when compared to other downtown buildings — red brick, sandstone panels, a metal roof and arches around the windows.

“We’ve never had a space like this for people to wait outside, where they can dwell and walk around and just enjoy the outside,” Campbell said. “That’s why it’s important for us to have benches for each canopy.”

WHAT’S LEFT TO DO?

Taking place now and continuing over the next couple of months is work to finish the flooring inside the building, painting the walls, installing ceiling tiles and having the furniture delivered. On the outside, some final concrete work needs to be done on the plaza and the roadway around the bus bays, and landscaping around the entire facility must be completed.

“It’ll be a nice gateway into the downtown, more attractive to the citizens who come into the downtown and a reminder that public transit is available in Kingsport,” Campbell said.

THE NEXT STEP

Kingsport has twice applied for $3.2 million in federal transit funds to go toward a second, $4 million phase of the project — a bus storage garage and vehicle wash facility. However, the city has not been awarded those grant dollars.

The garage would include storage for the entire fleet (currently 22 vehicles) and extra space for future vehicles, heavy duty roadbed/parking, and an area inside for light duty maintenance, such as cleaning and inspection.

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