Black Creek To Pay For Engineer Firm's Review Of New City Road Up Aetna Mountain

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

City Transportation Director Blythe Bailey said Tuesday that the Black Creek Mountain Development Group will pay for a review by an engineering firm of plans for a new city road up Aetna Mountain to a planned major development on top.

Geosyntec Consultants is charging $39,754 for the examination of the planned road that will roughly follow the track of the current dirt road that dates to before the Civil War.

Mr. Bailey said the city wants to make sure the winding mountain road is built correctly to avoid future repair liabilities for the city. 

The road is about two miles and will have to be built to city standards. It will include two pump stations and several retaining walls. A sewer line is to be built in conjunction with the road.

The Ragan-Smith firm engineered the road.

Doug Stein, one of the developers, said earlier that building the road and the necessary utilities, to city of Chattanooga requirements for alignment, grade, compaction, stability, and safety, will cost well in excess of the $9 million limit of a controversial $9 million Tax Increment Financing (TIF).

Under the TIF plan, the city and county agreed that for 20 years they would give up property tax revenue (except for schools) in the development area to the developers to recoup their costs for building the road.

The local governments also agreed to pay Black Creek interest at prime + 2 percent (currently 5+2) for a period of 20 years and to reimburse them for legal and engineering fees associated with bond issuance and the construction of the road.

The project is called the Upper River Gorge Drive Extension.

The developers earlier said they planned to develop some 1,200 acres on top of Aetna Mountain, along with 190 acres on the mountainside above the golf course community below.

The new city road is to eventually serve 1,500 new residential units along with a commercial section. Also set to be included are a playground, walking trails, a dog park, ball fields, swimming pools and a workout area. 

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