Chattanooga area residents have long looked forward to the three-mile extension of the Tennessee Riverpark from downtown to the city’s Southside, near the foot of Lookout Mountain. The latest addition to the Riverwalk is now open, and offers new vistas along the Tennessee River.
The previous Tennessee Riverpark provided about 10 miles of Riverwalk stretching from the Chickamauga Dam to Ross’s Landing. The new section of the Riverpark begins at Blue Goose Hollow Trail Head, located near the end of Martin Luther King Boulevard, adjacent to the Cameron Harbor development, and extends about 3.5 miles to the base of Lookout Mountain, where it connects with existing mountain trails.
Having overcome an array of rights-of-way negotiations and pathway logistics, this new leg of the Riverpark helps to fulfill a promise made to the people of Hamilton County 30 years ago: a commitment to create a beautiful, linear pedestrian Riverpark of more than 13 uninterrupted miles stretching from Chickamauga Dam to the city’s southern border.
Among the new Riverwalk amenities are a wider paved trail (up to 12 feet) and an amphitheater and landscaped lawns below the west side terminus of Martin Luther King Boulevard at Riverside Drive.
The segment now being unwrapped still leaves the difficult construction of a Broad Street crossing and a short half-mile connector to the Incline station.
Unlike the openness of the first 10 miles, which leads trekkers through wetlands and wooded stretches, the newest tract of the Riverwalk traverses a big chunk of the city’s industrial heritage. In one complex of plants, giant boilers manufactured for power plants were shipped out on huge barges at the river’s edge to global destinations. The huge crane for that work remains. Elsewhere, foundries, steel plants, and metal works built huge pipes, myriad industrial parts, and jobs for thousands of workers.
Along its path, walkers, runners, and bicyclists will also see evidence of the Southside’s burgeoning renaissance and residential boom. Since local leaders committed in 2012 to build this Riverpark segment, builders have invested more than $220 million in new residential units, sprouting waves of condos, apartments, and new businesses.
Since its inception 30 years ago, total investment in the Riverpark has amounted to $150 million, mostly through federal, state, and private grants. That sounds like a large figure, but in reality, it’s a small fraction of the private investment and job growth it has helped to bolster the region’s latest renaissance, the Chamber of Commerce said in a press release.
Since opening, Chattanooga’s linear park has been recognized as one of the best in the nation. “CNN Travel” named the Riverpark among the World’s 10 Best City Running Trails, and Thrillist.com placed the Riverpark among their list of “10 of America’s Coolest Urban Running Trails.”
Source: Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce
To see more photos, pick up a copy of this week's Hamilton County Herald.