New Greenways in Chattanooga Center on the Tennessee River
The 50 miles of planned greenways and the Riverpark area sit on Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) land.
By Azhar Abbas
About a decade back, people of Chattanooga sat together and visualized something. The vision was to create a better community based on a valued resource the Tennessee River. "We are a river city, and everything moves around the river," said Jim Bowen of the River Valley Partners, an organization that has played a major role in Chattanooga's redevelopment.
A few miles away from the main city is the Chickamauga Creek Greenway. A continuous row of tall sycamores and other trees loom on either side of an 8-foot-wide trail that runs more than a mile long. The nearby C B. Robinson Bridge offers a panoramic view, with a wildlife sanctuary on one side and landscaped grounds of the River park on the other side.
"The trail along the banks of the river is about 2 miles long," Jim Wigley, park coordinator said, "but it is only the first phase of the 22 miles of planned development." Wigley said about one million people visited the park last year. "Almost 70% of them come in school groups from in and outside the state."
One of the city's most inspiring sites is the Walnut Street Bridge. The 104-year-old bridge was closed and condemned in the early 1970s by the city, but a move by citizens in the mid 1980s saved it. At a cost of S4.5 million from both private and public purses the nearly 1,500-foot long bridge was renovated and opened as a pedestrian walk way in 1993. Out of $300 million spent developing the well-knit circuit of parks, trails, and landmarks, more than 80% was been given by the private sector.
Fortunately, the 50 miles of greenways and the Riverpark area sit on Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) land. "We didn't have to buy most of the land and that reduced the cost of the plan," said Karen Hundt of Riverfront-Downtown Planning and Design Center.
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Updated March 16, 2007