published Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

City debates repairing Wilcox Tunnel


by Cliff Hightower

Mayor Ron Littlefield told Chattanooga council members today they needed to rethink temporarily fixing the Wilcox Tunnel and instead use the money to expand it.

“I don’t know how many times we’ve put a Band-Aid on this problem,” he said. “No Band-Aid holds.”

The City Council could possibly vote on a measure next week that would pay more than $455,000 to temporarily fix the tunnel. Littlefield said he would much rather the city pay $700,000 for a long-term feasability study to make the tunnel larger.

Councilman Russell Gilbert, who represents the area, said he would like to hold a meeting with the mayor and the residents surrounding the tunnel.

He said there would be a meeting in March.

Contact Cliff Hightower at chightower@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CliffHightower.

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woodlase said...

Yea, modernize the thing like McCallie. It's WAY TOO NARROW, dimmly lit, and water is seeping from everywhere. I wouldn't be surprised if it did collapse and kill a bunch of people.

February 15, 2011 at 6:17 p.m.
jpo3136 said...

We have litle regard for what the Mayour himself thinks on this issue. We need to know what the people want, and get that paid for. Fixing or expanding the tunnel, just getting it up to contemporary standards, will take longer than the time remaining in Mayor Littlefield's term. Since its unlikely that he'll be re-elected, then political payoffs through tunnel expansion will be unlikely or limited.

He does have lots of commercial real estate connections, so surveying the area and hob-nobbing with engineers could be the $700,000 payoff that he's talking about.

Beyond helping himself by helping his buddies that he'll need in future commercial real estate deals, I'm skeptical of Mayor Littlefield's involvement in this project. Meanwhile, like most area residents, I'm confident that people living around the Wilcox Tunnel have been getting less than ideal service when it comes to engineering.

If this tunnel led to the Golf and Country Club, we wouldn't be dawdling with repairs this long.

February 15, 2011 at 7:32 p.m.
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