UPDATE: Crews putting finishing touches on Waterfront Project
After years of costly repairs, Chattanooga's 21st Century Waterfront will likely re-open early in the new year.
UPDATE: The Waterfront project near downtown is nearing the end. A final walk-through is scheduled during the week of March 28th and there may only be a few items left on the list that will need to be checked off.
The contractor worked on cleaning up the site, for the past few weeks. Sections of the waterfront have sunk 6 inches since it was completed in 2005.
The project at Ross's Landing cost more than 7-million dollars. The Waterfront is expected to open to the public on April 15th
PREVIOUS STORY: Problems were known with the 21st Century Waterfront before construction was completed. Cracks were noted soon after its grand opening. In the decade since, intermittent repairs have seemed to keep the attraction closed more often than not.
Administrators say we are now paying the high price for shoddy workmanship from the beginning phase of the project. On Tuesday night, the Chattanooga City Council okayed another $700,000 to make things right.
"When we get through with it, which should be in January, weather permitting, the 21st-Century Waterfront should be good-to-go for quite a number of years," said Lee Norris, city Public Works Administrator. He is confident about this incarnation of the city's front door-step because his department is overseeing the repairs.
The way it went in contributed to its closing and need of significant repair, according to Norris. Plans for the $120 million public/private venture were unveiled in 2002. The 129-acre development was completed in 2005. Repairs began as soon as 2008. "Well, we have a saying in construction," he explained, "'You could have it quick, cheap, or expensive. You can't have them all,' and so, this was done fast. This was done within budget, and maybe not the highest quality."
Initial fixes lead to further discovery. "We had noticed several years ago that there was some settling on those sidewalks between the bleachers, if you will," said Norris in reference to the flat areas along the massive steps that frequently serve as seating areas. What is known as the 'hard edge,' the concrete corner that is submerged in the river, also had to be replaced with pilings as the mighty Tennessee was eating it away. "In process of driving the sheet pilings, we noticed of the concrete sidewalk between the bleachers were settling also and some of the beams had sags in them," he added.
Norris showed pictures in the afternoon committee meeting highlighting the problems and the reasons the site remains closed.
The overhaul is not cheap. The council approved nearly three quarters of a million dollars, in addition to what has already been allocated, for engineers to formulate and contractors to implement a fix. "It's an expensive project, but I like to think it's done right this time and done better than previously."
This time, with Public Works in charge, Norris says, while he cannot guarantee a permanent fix, he is sure the showplace will last. "Based on everything we do have," he said, "the way were going about the repair should ensure it's stable for the foreseeable future."
A couple of council members and the city Chief Financial Officer confirmed to Channel 3 that these expenses are from funds assigned to the downtown area and could not have been used for projects in other parts of the city.
The tab for this round of repair now sits at about $7.3 million.