Mayor Berke proposes transportation department - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Mayor Berke proposes transportation department

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Of the three new city departments Mayor Berke is proposing, there's one that affects all of us, and that's transportation. From public transit, to new roads, down to pot holes, the responsibility may shift.  

"We were given a mandate by the citizens for change, and I think tonight you'll see the beginnings of that," Chattanooga City Council Chairman Yusuf Hakeem says.

Most Chattanooga voters did not vote for change, in fact 84% of registered voters didn't vote for anything in this election.

Mandate or not, newly elected chairman Yusuf Hakeem says Mayor Andy Berke has already met with council members and Hakeem doesn't expect much push back.

"From what I understand at this time, I believe everyone on the council is on board," Hakeem says.

Mayor Berke announced his proposal for a transportation department after just one week on the job.

"Whether it's CARTA or the airport, our roads, our bike trails, all those responsibilities will now go through the department of transportation," Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke says.

Until now, the city's Public Works Department has handled all transportation issues on top of it's other duties, like trash, water and sewer.

"Every day people should wake up with the job title being their goal," Mayor Berke says.

Mayor Berke says the way we get from place to place is a big enough issue that it needs a department with it as the sole focus.

"If you think about what makes a better neighborhood, about how people can access jobs from the west side from the east side of town, transportation is a big part of that solution," Mayor Berke says.

Drivers Channel 3 talked to say they can't argue with that.

"It's probably a good thing. the city is growing and a city this size probably needs constant maintenance," Chattanooga resident Debbie Petticord says.

Councilman Hakeem says public works will likely assist the new transportation department to get the job done.

"The regular citizen will receive better services. Things will get done in a more efficient manner," Hakeem says.

If council approves the restructuring plan, Mayor Berke says the last piece of the puzzle is putting people in place to head up the new departments, which he says will happen quickly.

He says in coming up with the plans, he met with the existing departments to re-evaluate how they operate.

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