Hole found in sinking Chattanooga barge; repairs planned this week

Hole found in sinking Chattanooga barge; repairs planned this week

June 12th, 2012 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

People fold up a tarp as water is pumped from the sinking barge anchored near the Olgiati Bridge in the Tennessee River on Monday.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

POLL: Should the rundown buildings on the barge be demolished?

Workers on Monday said they're hopeful of refloating a half-submerged barge on the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga, though the job may not be finished until later this week.

Project manager Brock Sparks said a diver found a 10-inch hole in the barge where the water was flowing in.

He said plans are to ask the Tennessee Valley Authority to again limit the discharge of water at Chickamauga Dam so workers can patch the hole. Sparks said Monday he wasn't sure TVA could restrict the water flow again today.

TVA has curbed the river flow three times in the last two weeks to aid the work. TVA estimated the latest move was to have lowered the river's elevation by up to 5 inches. Brickey said that wasn't enough to affect the Riverbend Festival.

Meanwhile, a downtown leader called for demolition of the rundown buildings on the barge after it's refloated on the river bank across from Ross's Landing.

"It's an eyesore," said Kim White, who heads the nonprofit downtown redevelopment group River City Co.

White also said she plans to talk with city officials about stopping a repeat of the situation.

"I'll have a conversation with the city," she said. "What can we do going forward so this can't happen. This is our front door."

Allen Casey, the former developer of the Chattanooga Choo Choo whose company owns the barge, has said he plans to "completely tear everything out" when it's brought back to the surface.

Casey plans to put a restaurant and bar on the barge as part of efforts to develop the 12-acre parcel to which it's moored.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.