Barge exit delayed again as safety tests drag on

Barge exit delayed again as safety tests drag on

Chattanooga barge staying one day more, official says

April 29th, 2015 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

The Casey barge is prepared for removal on Wednesday, Apr. 29, 2015, in Chattanooga.

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

A towboat has arrived to rid a derelict barge from Chattanooga's waterfront, but workers plan to spend an extra day doing tests on the vessel before pulling out Thursday morning if all goes well.

Officials previously said the barge would leave today. 

Also, workers are coordinating with TVA to raise the water level on the Tennessee River so the tests can be run, said Harry Phillips, who is corrdinating the effort on the barge.

Gulfstream Enterprises, a Biloxi, Miss., company, has been commissioned to move the barge. Plans are to take it down the Tennessee River to the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and then to Mobile Bay. Ultimately, the barge is expected to wind up at a small shipyard belonging to Gulfstream in Biloxi where it may be scrapped. 

The barge was brought to the city in 2009 by Allen Casey, a Chattanooga businessman who developed the Chattanooga Choo Choo more than four decades ago. He sought to make it a floating restaurant, but nothing was built and the vessel fell into disrepair.

Casey and one of his companies filed for bankruptcy more than a year ago after he was slated to go to trial in a lawsuit brought by a group of former investors in the barge.

Casey also had proposed a hotel and condominiums on about 10 acres of vacant land to which the barge is moored. About six acres of the site was earlier put on the market for $11.2 million.

Under a court plan, Gulfstream was to be given ownership of the barge and be paid $195,000 to remove it. The company was given a May 15 deadline to do so.