The state’s choice for the first project to fully incorporate the principles of Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) was announced in April by the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT). The Memorial Boulevard project will extend from East Center Street, within the city of Kingsport, to I-81 in Sullivan County.
TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely announced that the Memorial Boulevard (S.R. 126) project will be fully CSS designed.
“This illustrates another way that TDOT has listened to the public and is changing the way we do business,” Nicely said. “Our state will grow and change and roads will grow and change, but they will be designed to enhance our communities as much as possible, rather than detract from them.”
Nicely said many new TDOT highway projects will involve CSS techniques.
“CSS is an approach that involves all stakeholders to develop a transportation facility that fits its physical setting, and preserves scenic, aesthetic, historical and environmental resources, while maintaining safety and mobility,” he explained. “It is a process that is based heavily on input from the public –– the people who pay for the project and who will use it.”
Nicely said this announcement comes after months of work by several local officials including Kingsport Mayor Jeannette Blazier, Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable and District 2 State Representative Nathan Vaughn.
“We have created a community resource team comprised of local citizens to work with TDOT’s technical team and its consultants,” said Mayor Blazier. “Together they have engaged in team-building exercises and a context sensitive training course. They have shared information about historic structures, accident locations, speed limits, traffic analysis and much more. The resource team will now move toward the next step, a series of public involvement sessions, to be held in and near the project area.”
According to TDOT, newsletters will be mailed to more than 4,000 residents in the project area and placed at frequently visited locations such as grocery stores, schools and at Kingsport City Hall.
“Inside each newsletter will be a postcard asking people to tell us where and when they’d like us to hold the meetings,” said TDOT’s Project Manager Elizabeth Smith. “Once the schedules for the meetings have been set, a postcard will be sent to the same 4,000 people informing them of where to go.”
Smith said TDOT staff and members of the community resource team will make a presentation about the project at the meetings, then request input from the public.