Moccasin Bend Gateway plan gets wows from Chattanoogans

Moccasin Bend Gateway plan gets wows from Chattanoogans

November 15th, 2011 by Pam Sohn in News

Denny Marshall, left, explains to Lance Marshall the propositions posted in the Tennessee Room at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga before the the start of the presentation by Ints Luters of Jones & Jones.

Photo by Jenna Walker /Times Free Press.

One by one, Chattanoogans walked around the room, moving from poster to poster to get an understanding of the Gateway Plan -- a streetscaping and greenspace design to connect Moccasin Bend to Stringers Ridge and the Tennessee Riverwalk.

But the plan is much more than just connectivity and greenspace.

"It is kind of magnificent. It's mind-boggling," said Bill Fronk, of Signal Mountain.

The plan lines Manufacturers and Hamm roads with trees and greenspaces. It incorporates bicycle lanes, walking paths and a restored, once-concreted creek that makes stormwater runoff look like a marriage of art and stream.

It also has a wetlands called the wet woods with a boardwalk trail leading over it to the Brown's Gap Ridge where the Cherokee Trail of Tears made its way to cross the Tennessee River at a nearby ferry.

The plan even pays homage to the smokestack businesses that built Chattanooga with a brand-new Manufacturers Park studded with light towers to mimic the stacks. And the park is a space saver, built into the planned remake of the interchange of U.S. Highway 27 and Manufacturers Road. Parking will be incorporated under the northern abutments of the Olgiati Bridge.

"It brings together all the communities, and it's not just about access," said Cathy Cook, superintendent of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, which will oversee the 750-acre Moccasin Bend Archeological District. "It provides sustainable infrastructure and allows recreational use right through an industrial area. And it brings out all of those different stories."

The design -- by Jones & Jones Architects, Landscape Architects, Planners, of Seattle -- cost about $150,000. There is not yet an estimate on the cost of the finished plan, either in parts or as a whole.

But local officials hope federal highway funds aimed at increasing pedestrian and bicycle travel could be a key, according to Karen Hundt, a planner and the director of the Chattanooga Design Center in the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency.

She and David Crockett, director of Chattanooga's Office of Sustainability, said they also expect the projects to be funded in part with the same sort of public and private partnerships that financed the Tennessee Riverwalk and the Chattanooga Waterfront.

"Our [taxpayer] funding on those projects were leveraged by private money by about 13 to 1," Crockett said. "We didn't even pick up the tip [with public funds]."

The Office of Sustainability paid about one-third of the Jones & Jones' design fee, Crockett said.

Lyndhurst Foundation and other private donors also contributed, Hundt said.

Crockett said the plan's creative treatment of stormwater runoff will provide the city with a money-saving model for handling the city's increasingly expensive stormwater problem.

"Had we started 20 years ago using green infrastructure like this, it could have saved Chattanooga $100 million," he said.

In recent decades to deal with stormwater issues, the city has been told by federal regulators to install football field-sized combined sewer overflow holding tanks. But the city remains under the gun from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Justice Department because those underground tanks still do not keep Chattanooga from violating sewage treatment standards.

Last year, the city increased sewer rates, and the city's new state permit requires new developments to be able to contain the first inch of every heavy rainfall on site.

But what most people on Monday saw in the plan is tomorrow's greenspace where now the industry-lined streets offer gray views.

Ints Luters of Jones & Jones presents each of the propositions Monday evening inside of the Tennessee Room at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The Gateway to Moccasin Bend Park will involved plans to "green" Cherokee Road and Manufacturer's Road, create a pedestrian and bicycle path to Stringer's Ridge, and several other way to both aesthetically and functionally improve the area.

Ints Luters of Jones & Jones presents each...

Photo by Jenna Walker /Times Free Press.

Using colored dots to prioritize their top three choices in the seven-part plan, visitors to the University of Chattanooga's presentation room highlighted as their No. 1 choice the Tennessee Riverwalk extension from Renaissance Park to the planned interpretive center of Moccasin Bend Archaeological District.

The No. 2 choice for most was the streetscaped reconstruction of Manufacturers and Hamm roads.

"It's cool. It's very neat," said state Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson. "I think the connection between the Riverwalk and the Moccasin Bend interpretive center is a wonderful idea. Our Riverwalk is well-received by the public since it highlights the Tennessee River, our greatest natural resource."

Watson said he thinks Tennessee officials will have an interest in the project.

"We really haven't capitalized yet on the value of Moccasin Bend as a resource. I think this will help with the development of that," he said.

Contact staff writer Pam Sohn at psohn@timesfree or 423-757-6346.

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