The city of Chattanooga will receive $25 million in federal funds to replace the 70-year-old, long deteriorating Wilcox Boulevard Bridge with a new, modern structure.
The funding, which the U.S. Department of Transportation’s RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability & Equity) program funded, represents one of the largest single-item transportation investments in Chattanooga’s history.
The existing bridge has deteriorated to the extent that it can support only passenger vehicles, delaying East Chattanooga response times for first responders and increasing the burden on the city’s local logistics and transportation industry.
When completed, the new bridge will expand access to jobs, parks, trails and essential services for some of the city’s most historically disadvantaged communities while increasing safe access to Norfolk Southern’s DeButts Railyard, the city says in a news release.
The new bridge will be engineered to modern structural integrity standards that will support CARTA buses, emergency vehicles, increased vehicular traffic and multimodal freight to support future economic activity in East Chattanooga.
It will also include a new multi-use path that will connect East Chattanooga residents to the Riverwalk through the Wilcox Boulevard Connector – a pedestrian and bike connection the city plans to develop from Amnicola Highway at Wilcox Boulevard to the Riverwalk in the coming years.
With a direct connection to the Riverwalk, residents in the eight census tracts that make up the East Chattanooga area – 18% of whom do not own a car – will be able to walk or bike to jobs in the Amnicola Highway business park or downtown Chattanooga, to education opportunities at Chattanooga State and to the parks and trails along the riverfront.
The RAISE grant program is funded through President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Chattanooga’s award is one of the largest of the 166 funded projects.
The $25 million grant will go toward the estimated $54.5 million needed to fully replace the bridge, with the city and Norfolk Southern each contributing an additional $10 million and the Tennessee Department of Transportation contributing an additional $5 million over the next two to three years leading up to construction.
Hamilton County is contributing $500,000; the remainder will come from other local and federal transportation funding sources.
The construction plan is designed to not interrupt freight movements in the DeButts Railyard below
the bridge and will continue to allow limited vehicular traffic on two lanes of the existing bridge.
Source: city of Chattanooga