TIGER Grant could mean major overhaul for Wilcox Tunnel
A major overhaul of the Wilcox Tunnel is entirely in the hands of officials in D.C.
Chattanooga City County members voted unanimously to allow the city to apply for the TIGER grant.
$54 million dollars would fix the leaks and bad lighting in the Wilcox Tunnel that hundreds of travelers go through every single day.
The city is willing to front $25 million of it, if they can get the grant to pay for the rest. "It will help us build a new tunnel adjacent to the existing tunnel. The new tunnel would be for east bound traffic and the existing would be for west bound traffic," said Blythe Bailey, Chattanooga Director of Traffic.
Giving the community what they want, with little fuss. "It's a smart way to do it because it allows us to do substantial work with a closure associated with the construction," said Bailey.
However the city has applied for this grant before, without any luck, every year over the last five years, to be exact.
Bailey says it's a highly competitive grant and the success rate is less than 10 percent every year. But he has high hopes this time around, saying they meet the requirements of what the grant is intended for and that's to connect communities with jobs. "With an improved east/west bound corridor through the ridge, gives really good connectivity to Enterprise South which is a good destination for jobs," said Bailey.
And if they don't get it? Bailey says the community can still expect a few changes, with nearly two million dollars of improvements on the current tunnel, expected to begin this summer. "Lighting, water drips through the tunnel, just overall appearance," said Bailey.
It will be several months before the city will know if they have been awarded the TIGER grant.