Hamilton County is one step closer to expanding its scenic Riverwalk.

The Hamilton County Commission approved the real estate funding for the third phase of the Riverwalk project Wednesday. The extension will head south through the city's industrial area to the foot of Lookout Mountain.

"You look at the mountains, and you look at the river... It would be horrible if we didn't capitalize on something as beautiful as our river," said Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger.

Mayor Coppinger said grants and donations are going towards funding the $13.1 million project. Eighty percent of that comes from federal funds and 20-percent comes from private donations.

The Riverwalk has helped boost local tourism and makes visitors like Jerry Lawson, want to come back.  Lawson traveled from out of state to check out the boat tours -- something he can't do back home.

"In Georgia, unless you want to travel to the coast... you have some lakes there, but being away is kind of special," said Lawson.

It's special for tourists, but even more so for those who call the Scenic City home, like Julie West-Hammond.  She said she shows off the Riverwalk to family visiting from out of town.

"You bring them in, and they just can't believe it has all these facets to it."