UPDATE: Council members approved a $540,000 contract to repair the Holmberg pedestrian bridge Tuesday night

PREVIOUS STORY: The glass Holmberg bridge is on its way to becoming all stainless steel. Tuesday night City Council members will vote on the next phase of the project, which is to replace the remaining glass panels.

"I think this is wonderful!" Maxwell Eaton said as he looked at the glass bridge.

It's Eaton's first look at the Holmberg Bridge, a staple on the Chattanooga riverfront.

"I think the whole concept of the glass is an attraction!" exclaimed Eaton.

“It was a really nice artistic approach to a neat feature in the city," public works administrator Justin Holland said about the bridge’s glass design.

But the price of art is high, especially when it continues to break.

Since 2009 more than half of the glass panels have been replaced, costing tax payers roughly $270,000 in repairs.

"So the bridge just wasn't a sustainable option as a glass bridge," explained Holland.

Most glass bridges are in controlled environments, like indoors or on observation decks.

When the $1.6 million bridge was built some factors slipped through the cracks, such as the amount of foot traffic, impact from weather, and bicycles. All those factors cause damage to the glass bridge.

"I don't know that anyone would have known that the bridge could be susceptible to the breakage that we've seen," Holland said.

So now the city council will vote on spending $540,000 into switching out the remaining glass panels for this grated stainless steel.

Holland said the initial cost is high, but the city will save money on repairs.

Eaton, who is only visiting Chattanooga, said the cost of the bridge is irrelevant to him, but hates to see it go.
"I don't pay taxes here either so I don't know how that fits into the whole subject,” said Eaton, "A metal bridge is another bridge, but this glass says come on over! You've got to see the other side!"

The change may not be as eye-catching, but Holland said it's a change that will last.

"I think it'll be a great bridge for a long time," Holland said.

A Chattanooga company designed and built the glass bridge. We reached out today to ask about the original design and why factors like weather and traffic were not considered, we haven't heard back. That same company will now redesign the bridge.

It's not clear how long it will take to wrap up the construction, which is slated to start in March.

PREVIOUS STORY: Chattanooga City Council members will vote tonight on a $540,000 contract to repair the Holmberg pedestrian bridge, the glass bridge that connects Walnut Street and the Bluff View Art District.

The $1.6 million bridge opened on Chattanooga’s riverfront in 2005. It’s not the first time the bridge has needed repairs. Channel 3 previously reported on the costly fixes.

Stay with Channel 3 for updates on this story.