Community members say repairs to Wilcox tunnel is not enough, want 50 million dollar overhaul
A 2-million dollar project to repair the faulty Wilcox tunnel has been given the green light.
The Chattanooga City Council hosted a public hearing Tuesday afternoon to discuss plans to repair the 83-year-old tunnel. But those living in the area say a patch job isn't enough.
"Fix the tunnel. I repeat, fix the tunnel. Not repair the tunnel, patch the tunnel, but fix the tunnel," said John Taylor.
There was no room for misunderstanding during Tuesday's public hearing regarding the Wilcox tunnel.
"I want the tunnel to look like East Ridge tunnel and McCallie tunnel and I believe we've been discriminated against if it doesn't," said John Draper.
They say the tunnel isn't safe with leakage problems, narrow lanes and bad lighting.
Dozens of residents who use the tunnel say it's needed work for 25-years, while other tunnels have been repaired. "That is the only tunnel that is not repaired," said Taylor.
The city outlined the history of the tunnel, pinpointing every time they had made some sort of upgrade.
But the locals say those patch-jobs are not cutting it.
To re-do the tunnel will cost 50-million dollars. They've tried for federal grants for the last few years with no success. City officials say if the city has to front the full 50-million; it will be a raise in taxes by 48-percent.
"We are treating this very seriously. We're dealing with a number of the realities that all of the presenters have talked about," said Councilwoman Carol Berz.
The community doesn't care what it takes.
"When we want to fix other things we can fix it and find the money. But when it comes to our community, we are asking, we are tax paying citizens and we're asking for fair treatment," said Taylor.
The city will open bids for the project next month.
They say it should take less than a year to complete.