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TDOT nixes Kingston parking expansion

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By Mike Gibson

It seemed like a sure bet, but Kingston’s planned trailside parking lot project in Ladd Park fell by the wayside — at least for now.
It was grounded by bureaucrats’ reservations about its funding and its alleged purpose.
Kingston had planned to use around $300,000 in accumulated in federal Surface Transportation funds, in conjunction with another $200,000 or so left over from the Ladd Greenway project, to expand the parking lot at the trailhead in Ladd Park.
The existing lot often proved far too small for the overflow crowds sometimes seen at big events — particularly fishing tournaments — at the park.
City officials went so far as to vet the project with Tennessee Department of Transportation before seeking “official” approval, and were told it should be no problem.
Believing the final OK to be a mere formality, city officials submitted the project, already anticipating a council vote on the matter once state and federal officials had signed off.
Inexplicably, though, the city’s request was turned down.
The reasons are something City Manager Jim Pinkerton is still trying to get his head around.
One issue, said Pinkerton, was the fact that the parking lot was near a boat ramp and a trailhead.  TDOT questioned whether it was proper to use highway funds for a parking lot serving a boating area.
Meanwhile, the project would ultimately require a $500,000 change order — roughly the total cost of expanding the lot.
Pinkerton said the Federal Highway Administration complained that such a change order was too large in relation to the original cost of the greenway project ($1.6 million).
“But really, if you want to add to a project, that kind of thing is commonplace,” Pinkerton said. “I couldn’t entirely understand any of it.”
Pinkerton said project engineer Danl Hall of Vaughn and Melton is going to look at the options.
Hall plans to find a way to make another submission that might be more amenable to state and federal officials.