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.

 



Hamilton Place Officials Call Saturday Evening Incident Unfortunate; Say Significant Investments Have Been Made In Security

Hamilton Place officials released the following statement after Saturday evening's incident: "The incident  on Saturday  evening at Hamilton Place was unfortunate. A fight did occur which led to confusion and caused the property to be evacuated. Hamilton Place appreciates the Chattanooga Police Department's quick response and their thorough investigation ... (click for more)

Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ANDERSON, CEAUNA JASHAE  2501 OAK ST CHATTANOOGA, 37404  Age at Arrest: 19 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga DOMESTIC ASSAULT --- BLEVINS, JAMES BRAYDEN  683 BANDY RD RINGGOLD, 30736  Age at Arrest: 27 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga THEFT OF PROPERTY DRUGS GENERAL ... (click for more)

The Logic of Hysteria: A Hometown Look from A Thousand Miles Away

There was a shooting recently in my hometown, in the parking lot of the mall. It made the national news and I was reading the user comments on the story. Someone was giving their experience about how they heard some rounds fired near the Sears. The next comment was, “They still have a Sears?”   So what the heck happened? The police say there was never an active shooter, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Why CNN Is Gonna Croak

I believe CNN (Cable News Network) has become one of the most disappointing news sources America has ever known in the last five years. The bastions of sound journalism no longer exist as the once-great organization has gone the way of liberal loathing. Its new basis-of-fact cannot be trusted and the overwhelming bias against conservatives in our nation is as morbid as it is frightening. ... (click for more)

Baylor Boys Advance To D-II Final Four

Baylor and Ensworth split their two regular-season basketball games with the Red Raiders prevailing by 15 at home while the Tigers won by a dozen in Nashville. They played the rubber game in the series Saturday at Baylor’s Jimmy Duke Arena. The game was much closer than either of the first two, but the home team won again as Baylor improved to 18-6 with the closer-than-it-sounds ... (click for more)

Cookeville Shocks Cleveland, 70-68, In Region 3-3A Tournament

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – As a No. 1 seed, Cleveland had reason to feel comfortable going into Saturday’s Region 3-3A boys’ basketball tournament against No. 4 Cookeville. However, the Cavaliers figured they were the Blue Raiders’ equal. And they were. Cookeville overcame a sluggish start and then took the battle to Cleveland over the final three quarters, Noah Hilliker ... (click for more)