KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL)- City leaders in Kingsport are moving forward with plans to build a multi-million dollar public transit facility downtown.
Kingsport leaders say the popular Kingsport Area Transit System, also known as KATS, is in need of a new home.
Almost 150-thousand people use it every year.
KATS debuted in 1995.
City leaders said the current headquarter for KATS isn’t sufficient to meet the current demand for services.
Now there’s a plan to build a new 8 million dollar Kingsport transit system center downtown at the corner of East Sullivan and East Main streets, the site where the former Kingsport Foundry sat for decades.
“In the 20 plus years of transit in Kingsport, Tennessee this will be the first time we have had a facility designed for transit,” McCartt said.
When we spoke to Assistant City Manager Chris McCartt on Monday afternoon he described the site as shovel ready, but even so he said there are still a lot of steps ahead of them before they can break ground on the site.
It is a facility city leaders have been discussing for years now.
Back in March of 2015 McCartt said the 8 million dollar project was in its infancy, but now, just over a year later, they are seeing progress.
“We’ve also concluded interviews for potential architect and engineering firms and we will be working over the next week or so to determine the best qualified firm,” McCartt said.
McCartt said building new facility could mean expanding services.
“Three opportunity for expansion, into Rock Springs, Colonial Heights, and extending our existing operating hours,” McCartt said.
This expansion would be welcomed news for Kingsport residents we spoke with like Robert Celaster.
“I think they could add more stops you know, go out to a wider variety and range of places, you know I have to travel three streets over just to get to a stop near my house,” Celaster said.
Celaster isn’t alone, it is a service thousands of people use in Kingsport every month.
McCartt said they hope to break ground, and move in as soon as possible.
“Best case scenario end of 2017, more than likely you are looking at early 2018,” McCartt said.
The next step in order to get shovels in the ground and to get going with construction is by applying for another federal grant that will continue to help fund this 8 million dollar project.
McCarrt said they will go before the Board of Mayor and Alderman for their approval to apply for the grant at their meeting Tuesday night.
Right now the price tag on the project is 8 million dollars.
City leaders say public money will cover most of that price tag.
The current plan calls for about $800,000 in city funding.
Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.