Mayor Berke working on plans to improve the Wilcox Tunnel

Reported by: Erik Avanier
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Updated: 10/07/2013 12:30 am
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee(WDEF) - It's not everyday we see Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke hitting the streets and going door-to-door but that has been the case for the past two weekends as Berke works on a plan to improve the Wilcox Tunnel.

WDEF caught up with the mayor and his support staff as they went door-to-door with a list of survey questions in hand.

"It's pretty funny when you knock on some ones door and they say wait the mayor is here," said Berke with a big smile on his face.

But his door-to-door visits were all business. The mayor has been gathering input from residents living in neighborhoods close to the Wilcox Tunnel. His goal was to listen to concerned residents to see what they think needs to be done to improve safety within the Tunnel.

"What I really want to do is make sure I understand what's more important for people. We only have a limited amount of money and we're trying to make sure that we use those dollars the most effectively," said Berke.

The Wilcox Tunnel is nearly 100 years old and there are some issues that have become concerns for some residents.

"The tunnel is too small," said one resident who also talked about running water that freezes in the winter time causing slick conditions for motorist on the West end of the tunnel.

"It's very tight because it was made for a time that didn't have big SUV's driving through the tunnel," said Berke who also brought up the issue about slick winter time road conditions.

Many people surveyed say they would like to see the tunnel equipped with  better lightning for both drivers and pedestrians.

Others were concerned about the structural safety.

"The tunnel is safe structurally. I know people are concerned about that but we've looked into and it's safe structurally," the mayor said.

Once Berke finish analyzing the input he received from residents, he says he'll be able to come up with a cost effective plan to improve the safety conditions within this tunnel.

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