Engineers soon will begin designing a proposed three-mile Chattanooga Riverwalk extension from Ross's Landing to as far south as St. Elmo Avenue.
Hamilton County commissioners just have to give them the green light today.
Commissioner Tim Boyd wants Barge, Waggoner, Sumner & Cannon, the firm contracted to do the review, to take extra steps on the front end to ensure the county doesn't have problems later with the trail through U.S. Pipe property.
"I just really want them to know that I'm aware that's a problem area because that's been a dump site for the foundry since the '70s," Boyd said this week.
The full commission will consider whether to release $1.14 million for the next phase in a meeting this morning. The environmental phase of the project recently wrapped up, and county Engineering Manager Todd Leamon said his staff is aiming to complete the estimated $15 million project by winter of 2013.
"We've got to nail down the alignment in final design," Leamon said. "We also have to acquire whatever right of way and easements we need."
The project, funded by federal highway grants and two Tennessee Department of Transportation grants, requires the county to wait until the upcoming phase to negotiate any necessary property rights for the project.
The proposed section would need to cross property owned by PSC Metals Inc., U.S. Pipe, Alstom, ADM and Cameron Harbor, Leamon said.
In some places, the county wants to seek permission to use existing underpasses and bridges, but engineers might have to design such structures elsewhere along the route, Leamon said.
The commission's finance committee discussed the engineering study last week, and committee member Boyd implored Leamon to conduct as much core drilling and environmental testing as possible.
"Make sure they do their jobs there," Boyd said in the meeting.
On Monday, Boyd said he's concerned about construction breaching the integrity of the site, potentially disturbing material that might leach into the Tennessee River or the soil. He also wants a study of the subsoil to ensure that future settling doesn't break up the path and become a maintenance issue, he said.
"From a public awareness standpoint, that portion of the region would be more suspect than many of the others they've worked in," Boyd said.
Boyd said he fully supports the project, but he wants it to be safe for users.
The Riverwalk extension project has funding for the section from Ross's Landing to South Broad Street. Pending grant money could allow the county to extend the new section farther to St. Elmo Avenue at Middle Street, Leamon said.
The design phase should be complete late next spring, and Leamon said the current schedule is to bid the 18-month construction phase next June or July.
If commission approves funding for the design, work will begin in coming weeks, Leamon said.
The project is a joint venture between the city and county. Once construction is complete, the county plans to turn the property over to the city to maintain.