Chattanooga: City eyes more waterfront fixes

Chattanooga: City eyes more waterfront fixes

January 30th, 2009 by Mike Pare in Local Regional News

More problems have surfaced on Chattanooga's downtown waterfront even as a $1.2 million fix to the Passage is scheduled to start in February, city officials said Thursday.

Divers are expected to be hired to find out why settlement, cracking and separating have occurred in the concrete along the Tennessee River near the Passage.

"There are other issues," said Steve Leach, the city's public works administrator, at a meeting of the Chattanooga Downtown Redevelopment Corp. "That's a warning shot across the bow."

Repairs to the Passage, the popular gathering spot near the Tennessee Aquarium, will begin next month and take until about July 1, officials said.

WHAT'S NEXT

Mike McMahan, the city's interim attorney, said if a lawsuit is to be filed concerning the Passage repairs, it must be done by April. He said the City Council and the mayor likely will make the decision.

P&C Construction Inc. was the low bidder for the project, said Vance Travis of TWH Architects.

He said the Passage repairs coupled with other expenses related to the project could push the total price tag to between $1.5 million to $2 million. That figure would not include the cost for the divers or any needed repair work to concrete areas they might identify.

The Passage was closed last year over safety concerns, which included loose tiles and electrical grounding issues. The city had approved an $85,000 study to look at the problems of the Passage, which opened more than three years ago.

The Passage was part of then-Mayor Bob Corker's 21st Century Waterfront Project, a $120 million public-private initiative.

The other nearby parts of the waterfront project under evaluation include the hard edge along the Tennessee River, sidewalks and steps. Caulking to fix problems with some concrete joints hasn't fully worked, said Lee Norris, the city's deputy administrator of public works.

After the heavy rains recently, problems remain, he said.

Mr. Norris said there are plans to hire the diving firm "pretty fast" to go into the river and inspect what may be causing the issues.

He said there is a suspicion that river currents may be creating the problems.

Mr. Leach added there may need to be handrails and guardrails put in some parts of concrete area for safety.