CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
The City of Chattanooga began a $5.7 million repair project Tuesday on downtown's 21st Century Waterfront.
Waves from the Tennessee River are eroding away the soil and foundation of the attraction. In fact, part of the $120 million Waterfront is sinking 6 inches into the river.
Norris said a new contractor has been signed to help with the repairs. A barge arrived Tuesday morning with materials needed to finish the project by May. Norris said workers will use stabilize the soil by putting large sheets of steel beneath the foundation, essentially acting as a barrier between the river and the soil.
“I think this is a much better solution to the issue. We don't have raw earth exposed to the river. There will be a steel wall between the earth and the river itself.”
The addition to Ross's Landing was completed in 2005 and has had problems ever since. The city lost a lawsuit filed in 2009 against the designers and construction firm. Now it's stuck with the $5.7 million repair bill. City Council approved funding for the repairs in 2013.
Norris said he believes the damage stems from a combination of poor planning and Mother Nature.
“I don't think the original designer understood the power of the Tennessee River,” Norris said. “They didn't understand some of the eddy currents created by putting a 90 degree angle into the water.”
The contractor must complete repairs by May 1 and will be fined $3,000 a day for every day late. Norris says the worst case scenario entails the contractor packing up in time for the Ironman 70.3 on May 17 and returning after Riverbend to finish work. But Norris said he expects the work to be completed by the deadline.