CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (March 17, 2011 ) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District is working with the National Park Service to stabilize the riverbank here along the Tennessee River in an effort to protect and preserve valuable cultural and Civil War historical sites at Moccasin Bend National Archeological District.
“The Corps and National Park Service signed an interagency agreement calling for the Corps to plan, design and construct the appropriate stabilization,” said Walter Green, Nashville District’s project manager for the stabilization effort. “The Corps has completed planning and designs for the entire 4.5 miles and has started construction.”
NPS has appropriated $3.2 million for construction, which will cover a little more than a half-mile stretch located in the highest priority area during this phase of the project.
Green explained that the prime contractor, SRS, Inc., of Gallatin, Tenn., and sub contractor, Choctaw Transportation Company Inc., of Dyersburg, Tenn., are working from barges and boats in the river to stabilize the riverbank, which has been eroding by as much as a foot per year in some areas.
“There are two types of bank stabilization. One uses rock all the way from the river bed to the top of the riverbank,” Green said. “The other uses a rock base with soil fill on top where we will put plants for aesthetic purposes. The contractor has started work on the all-rock portion and should complete both the all-rock and rock-and-soil portions by early summer.”
Sam Weddle, NPS’s management assistant at Moccasin Bend, said the historical site being protected is a source of pride to the city of Chattanooga, and has received huge support from the area’s American Indian tribes and the non-profit group “Friends of Moccasin Bend.”
He said the support of the public and key supporters to preserve and protect Moccasin Bend is important given the ongoing erosion that threatens the shoreline.
“Included on the riverbank in many areas of the Moccasin Bend Archeological District are areas where there are current archeological sites involved with the 12,000 years of human habitation that are associated with Moccasin Bend,” Weddle said.
Green said given the sensitive areas that are being protected, the Corps is taking every precaution to protect the archeological resources, and has even hired an archeologist to be on site to address any concerns as the project continues.
“We’re not excavating anything on the bank at all,” Green stressed. “The trees that are being cut are only those required for proper placement of the stone or soil, and we’re not pulling any roots.”
The 750-acre site, which is part of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, is located on a prominent bend in the Tennessee River and across the river from downtown Chattanooga.