Officials are seeking about $350,000 in city funds to hire a marine engineer to determine how best to fix crumbling concrete and other problems along the docking area at Ross's Landing.

"It's not the issue of safety. It's the issue of things falling apart," Steve Leach, the city's public works administrator, told officials of the Chattanooga Downtown Redevelopment Corp. on Wednesday.

Lee Norris, deputy public works administrator, said the concrete boat dock area next to the popular Passage water attraction is stable.

But the Tennessee River's current is causing a washing out of dirt beneath the water's surface, he said, which is prompting concrete to crack and fall away as well as uneven settling and a failure of the retaining wall system.

The city already has spent $50,000 to look at the problems on the docking area above and below the surface.

The $350,000 for the repair plan will be sought from the city's capital budget, officials told the Redevelopment Corp. The panel has overseen the 21st Century Waterfront Project, as well as needed repairs since the $120 million upgrade started and later opened in May 2005.

Mr. Leach said an engineering study is expected to tell how best to make permanent repairs and identify the cost to fix the problems at Ross's Landing. The study "will determine the best way to go," he said.

Putting up a coffer dam in the river, which will create a dry area in which repairs can be made, may be the most expensive fix, Mr. Leach said. A city engineer has said the work could cost more than $1 million.

But there could be a better and less expensive way, Mr. Leach said.

Temporary fixes have been made on the surface of the docking area, he said, but problems will come up again.

"It's somewhat stabilized now," Mr. Leach said.

Mr. Norris said plans are to issue a request for qualifications from interested engineering firms. He said actual repair work could start after next year's Riverbend Festival if money is available.

The nearby Passage, the Cherokee Indian attraction, was reopened in April after a $1.6 million, two-year fix that involved repairing falling tiles and electrical problems.

Officials said the Passage is improved and safer.

Funding to fix the dock area could depend on what happens to a lawsuit the city brought last year against the 21st Century Waterfront's designer, builder and developer.

One of the defendants, the private, nonprofit downtown redevelopment group RiverCity Co., has countersued.

City attorney Mike McMahan said the litigation is ongoing and his office recently received about 85,000 pages of documents related to the project's construction.

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