Harr Outlines $40 Million Plan For Chattanooga Light Rail System

Monday, July 28, 2014
Ron Harr
Ron Harr

Outgoing Chamber of Commerce President Ron Harr on Monday outlined a $40 million plan for a Chattanooga light rail system that would serve not only downtown, but also the Airport and the Enterprise South Industrial Park.

In a speech to the Chattanooga Engineers Club, Mr. Harr said most cities looking at such an ambitious plan "would be facing costs of over a billion dollars."

But he said Chattanooga is blessed to have numerous rail lines still in place, including one that the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum earlier obtained usage rights.

Mr. Harr said it would cost just $4 million to put a line in place from the TVRM by Missionary Ridge to Montague Park, where he said it could connect by CARTA shuttle to downtown.

He said the line could go all the way to the Chattanooga Choo Choo, where a new Intermodal Transit Station is planned, if a way is found to get past the main freight line that goes near the National Cemetery and Warner Park.

Mr. Harr said estimates are that a tunnel could be built under the main line for $10 million. That would allow the light rail to go from the railroad museum to the Choo Choo.

He said a grant application to pay for setting up the light rail system has been submitted to federal authorities. He said an answer is expected in September.

Mr. Harr said the application was put together hurriedly, but he said it states a very compelling case, including stressing Chattanooga's rich railroad history.

He said the TVRM could reach the Airport and the Enterprise South Industrial Park by just adding a new track of about a mile and a half in each direction. That cost was put at $13 million for each line.

Mr. Harr said one option on train cars would be to spend about $100,000 to refurbish six diesel-powered passenger cars owned by the TVRM. Another would be to use electric-powered vehicles. He said the vehicle would need to go through the Missionary Ridge Tunnel where electric power would not be available overhead, but he said there are technologies available to keep it running for that short distance before a switch back to electric.  

The speaker said the light rail line could serve the need of commuters and also be a tourism draw. He said visitors often ask, "Where's the train?"

He said the line could also help boost redevelopment in East Chattanooga and other communities along the route.

Mr. Harr said he first arrived in Chattanooga as a McCallie boarding student via the Pelican from Bristol.

He said in all the planning for the light rail system one axiom is "there will be no harm to the city's robust freight system." He said 70-80 freight trains a day pass through the city, though they are largely "invisible" to most residents.

He said the city is blessed to be served by both CSX and Norfolk Southern, saying that was a major reason that Chattanooga landed Volkswagen.


Crash On Chattanooga Avenue Causes Power Outage

A single car accident has damaged a power pole on Chattanooga Avenue in front of the Crown Mill Village apartments and has caused a power outage in the area.   Chattanooga Avenue is closed between Matilda Street and Judson Street while the Dalton Police Department investigate the crash and Dalton Utilities works to replace the pole.   The vehicle, a white Nissan ... (click for more)

Catoosa County Arrest Report For July 24-30

Click  here  for the Catoosa County arrest report for July 24-30. (click for more)

Chattanooga's Memorial Day

It is recorded in the Fourth Chapter of the Book of Joshua, that after the nation had crossed the River Jordan, Joshua would receive a divine commandment to choose 12 men from among the people and tell them to take 12 stones from the middle of the river.  Each man placed a stone on their shoulder which represented one of the tribes of Israel, and served as a memorial ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: They Still Love The ‘Lickers’

When Congressman Ted Yoho (R-Fl.) introduced the 2015 version of the “Prevent All Soring Tactics” in Congress this week, he already had a bipartisan crowd of 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats as co-sponsors. That’s hardly amazing. Today there are over 280 organizations, associations, veterinary and animal advocates who vehemently support the legislation, because it is well documented, ... (click for more)

Justin Brown Signs With Hiwassee College

Only weeks after signing Red Bank's Jalen Moore to a scholarship, Hiwassee head baseball coach Shane Gardner was back in Chattanooga on Wednesday evening. This time he was in the Scenic City looking for a player he described as "a spark plug, someone who could boost our team and contribute right away." He believes he's found that young man in former Chattanooga School for the ... (click for more)

Robert Powderly Still Active After All Of These Years

It didn’t take long for Robert Powderly to get fully involved in the running boom back in the late 70s. Millions of Americans joined the parade back in those days where running was their main source of physical fitness and Powderly was a big part of it. Powderly is now 68 and retired from U.S. Pipe where he worked in the accounting department.   He’s also had a couple ... (click for more)