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Newsroom :: Waste Watch  - 21st Century Waterfront Crumbling

21st Century Waterfront Crumbling

by John Pless

Chattanooga's 21st Century Waterfront was completed only seven years ago but it's already crumbling apart. The city borrowed $120-million to build it and will now have to borrow millions more to repair it.

Every one of the white marks that dots the 1000-foot landing highlights a crack in the concrete, and there are many. City officials say the slope is settling and shifting.

Terry Woods, who regularly walks along the landing, said "yes I think it should be fixed if it's going to fall apart but do I want the city to go into debt, no."

The City Council is set to approve spending $8-million in it's capital budget for the work which would be borrowed through the sale of bonds that have to be repaid over time with interest.

We asked District 3 Councilwoman Pam Ladd if the project is worth saving and she said "absolutely, it is key and critical to our downtown area."

Then-mayor Bob Corker put pressure on Continental Construction to finish the project by May of 2005 to much fanfare before he launched his 2006 campaign for the U.S. Senate. The Waterfront was designed to attract people to the city's prized resources like the Tennessee River and a revitalized downtown.

Bob Doak, president of the Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau, said "the 21st Century Waterfront project is a vital component for tourism and I somewhat have it akin to the second renaissance of our city."

A few years ago the city spent almost $2-million repairing The Passage which connects the Waterfront with the Aquarium district. Engineers found The Passage had serious flaws that posed a threat to pedestrians. Mayor Ron Littlefield tried to sue the developer and River City to recover the cost of repairs, but lost. The city is trying again.

Recently Chattanooga spent more than a half-million dollars to study why the flawed Waterfront is shifting. The engineers who conducted the study said it will take about $5-million  to either repair of replace the concrete where it's cracked but they also said it will take a few million more to come up with a more permanent solution -- to provide some kind of structure underneath to keep the slope from sliding even further into the Tennessee River.

"We've come too far not go ahead and correct and fix what we need to fix on it," Ladd said. "It needs to be fixed totally and completely right now."

Doak added "in order to be successful you've got to keep your product very clean, very fresh and very safe."

City officials said the $8-million requested in the capital budget may not cover all the costs of repairs. There's been some discussion about enhancing the Waterfront with trees, more boat slips and other new features.
21st Century Waterfront Crumbling

Sunday, August 4 2013, 12:11 PM EDT

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