Construction crews will have to work quickly next year to repair the 21st Century Waterfront between two of the riverfront's biggest events — the Riverbend Festival in June and Head of the Hooch in November.
"It will be a real challenge," said Larry Zehnder, the city's director of Parks and Recreation. "We'll have to tiptoe around some events."
City officials began evaluating needed repairs to the waterfront's "hard edge" two years ago. Erosion on the river's edge led to cracking and shifting of the concrete structure.
The 21st Century Waterfront opened in 2005. Within months, problems emerged at The Passage and cost the city about $1.6 million to fix.
Now the city will focus on the hard edge. City Council members allocated $8 million in the capital budget this year for repairs.
The money also will be used for some improvements, such as raised crosswalks across Riverfront Parkway, permanent ramps for small boats and a visitors center with restrooms. However, the budget likely will not cover all of them.
"I don't want to go over what the council provided," Zehnder said.
Preliminary plans are under review, Zehnder said. Bids are expected to go out by spring.
Council Chairwoman Pam Ladd said combining the repairs and improvements is efficient.
"They're smart upgrades," she said. "It's smart to do it now."