City Set To Move Ahead On Study For Light Rail System; But Some Council Members Skeptical

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

City officials are set to move ahead in applying for a grant to study setting up a light rail system in Chattanooga, though some City Council members are skeptical.

Blythe Bailey, city transportation director, said it might cost $20 million to set up a system that would use the Missionary Ridge Tunnel to go from downtown to the Chattanooga Airport as well as the Enterprise South Industrial Park.

He said a later phase going to South Chattanooga might cost $15 million.

Several council members praised the transportation director for "thinking bold," but others questioned whether that amount of money might better be used for other infrastructure.

Councilman Yusuf Hakeem, who has sparred with Mr. Bailey recently, said such a move would be another step in "squeezing out" the largely-minority taxi industry.

Mr. Bailey said, "Chattanooga is the 'Choo Choo City,' but people come here and ask, 'Where's the trains."

He added, "We felt that Chattanooga is a place where people ought to be able to ride the train."

Mr. Bailey said the city has a wide array of unused track and rail right of ways that might be put to use to give travelers another transit option.

He indicated that CARTA might be called upon to operate the light rail system.

The city is applying for a $400,000 federal TIGAR 6 grant that would require a $300,000 city match.

Council members Chris Anderson, Carol Berz and Moses Freeman praised the project, but Councilman Larry Grohn said such light rail systems are usually in much larger cities, not one the size of Chattanooga.

Councilman Jerry Mitchell said light rail is 15 to 20 years down the road in the area growth plan. He asked, "What's the rush?"

Councilman Anderson said it is in the plan for 2020. He said, "A lot of people have been talking about this the last few days and are excited about it."

Councilwoman Berz, favoring moving forward on the idea, said, "We need to get ahead of the curve."

The grant application was approved 8-1 with Chairman Chip Henderson opposed.

The city is also applying for a second TIGER 6 federal grant - $27 million for the $52 million Wilcox Tunnel project.

Mr. Bailey said he was assured that one project would not knock out the other, but they would be considered separately.

The city applied earlier for a TIGER 6 grant for the tunnel project and got turned down. Mr. Bailey said the city was encouraged to try again.

He said now there is not such an emphasis on having a project ready to go, but applicants are given up to two years to get it ready.


Fire Destroys Home On Sea Haven Drive

Firefighters from Dallas Bay Volunteer Fire Department arrived on the scene of  6329 Sea Haven Drive to find a fire through the roof and a partial collapse of the home. No one was home at the time of the fire. The family was driving home from the Washington, D.C. after visiting family over the holidays. A dog did expire in the fire. Neighbors had been taken care of the ... (click for more)

Walker County Arrest Report For Nov. 23-29

Here is the Walker County arrest report for Nov. 23-29: RICHARDSON         CHARLES      ALLEN           WM     20        Officer MILLER         PROBATION VIOLATION (F) ... (click for more)

Misconceptions About Ban The Box

Mr. Exum,  I want to invite you as a guest speaker at the NAACP General Membership meeting.  I believe we can accomplish our goals and clear up any misconceptions about Ban The Box and the role of the NAACP in a much more meaningful manner face to face.   In that vein I would like to invite you to have coffee with me at Panera Bread.  I will not make a ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Great Thanksgiving

In order for you to best understand this, last Thursday was the first Thanksgiving I have ever spent alone.  Don’t misunderstand, I had a fistful of kind invitations but I am the only remaining member of my immediate family around here and I guess I started dwelling on that a little too much as the holiday neared. Making out my “thankful” list helped, and I ate enough with ... (click for more)

Foster and Auriemma - Hall of Fame Coaches – Meet at McKenzie Arena Tonight

  A young basketball coach with lots of drive and knowledge but little money was in desperate need of a dependable car to get from home to work and back. A good friend gave his reliable $100 car to the coach and went out and replaced it with another $100 car. That same friend – also an up-and-coming coach – had also helped his brother a few years earlier by taking a ... (click for more)

No.1 UConn Women and Breanna Stewart Face Mocs Monday

“By late Monday night, UConn’s Breanna Stewart will be on a very short list of the greatest female players to ever play at McKenzie Arena.”   -- UTC women’s basketball coach Jim Foster   America’s most talented female player - Breanna Stewart - on the best women’s college basketball team in the land -   UConn – is in town for a one night showing, ... (click for more)