Chattanooga officials want to fully fix edge of 21st Century Waterfront

Chattanooga officials want to fully fix edge of 21st Century Waterfront

June 7th, 2012 by Cliff Hightower in News

A cyclist rolls over the concrete seawall near Ross's Landing on Wednesday. Officials say the concrete seawall around Ross's Landing is developing internal structural issues.

Photo by Jake Daniels /Times Free Press.


• $7.8 million: Estimated cost to fix the hard edge of the 21st Century Waterfront

• $4.8 million: Cost for the most minimum fix to the waterfront

• $610,000: How much the city has spent so far on studying the problem

Source: Chattanooga

The city's proposed capital budget includes $8 million to fix the entire stretch of the 21st Century Waterfront that has experienced cracking problems.

Mayor Ron Littlefield said Wednesday he thought there is no reason to wait.

"We want to fix it right and as permanently as possible," he said.

The city already has spent $610,000 on a yearlong study of possible fixes of cracks along the hard edge of the 21st Century Waterfront at Ross's Landing. HDR Engineering Inc. briefed the City Council more than a month ago on possible solutions.

The proposed solutions would cost an estimated $4.8 million to $7.8 million. The lower figure is a partial fix, while the higher figure is fully fixing the waterfront by building a steel wall underneath the river.

The City Council is expected to discuss the 2012-13 capital budget and vote on it within weeks, once the city's operational budget is completed.

Larry Zehnder, the city's director of Parks and Recreation, said he hoped besides fixing the hard edge, the city could also possibly look at instituting some improvements. Some of those improvements could be planting more trees, installing docks and also placing raised crosswalks along Riverside Drive.

But he said his department would ask no extra money on top of the $8 million.

"I want to use that as a price tag of what we can do," he said.

Zehnder said he hopes the end price on the waterfront fix would be substantially less to allow some of the improvements.

Littlefield affirmed he would ask for no more money from the council. He said he would support improvements as "long as there was room in the budget."

The 21st Century Waterfront opened to great fanfare in May 2005, but problems were found at the Passage, a water feature of the waterfront, and the city spent $1.6 million to reconstruct the site.

The city also began noticing problems with cracking at the 1,000 foot hard edge along the riverfront.

A judge later threw out a lawsuit against project overseer River City Co., designer Hargreaves & Associates and contractor Continental Construction Co. by the city. City Attorney Mike McMahan has said the city is still looking at appealing the decision.

Zehnder said Wednesday the improvements toward the park have not been picked. He said the city would just have to look at what is priority and what it costs.

Council Chairwoman Pam Ladd said she supports fixing the whole waterfront park at once instead of waiting. She said costs would just continue to rise and it will get more expensive in the future.

She said extra boat docks put into the area would provide the city with more revenue.

"We need to go ahead and make it right," she said. "Fix it right."

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