Chattanooga Residents Concerned Over Area’s Rapid Growth

Image Credit: Charlene N. Simmons / CC

The Tennessee Conservative Staff –

According to a survey of Hamilton County voters participating in the Nov. 8 election, more than one-third of voters think Chattanooga is getting too big, too quickly.

311 voters were sampled at the polls during early voting and on Election Day, nearly 52% said Chattanooga and Hamilton County are growing at the right pace, and almost 36% of the responders said local growth was happening too fast. 

Voters living in the faster-growing suburban areas of the county were much more likely to think the county was growing too quickly. 

State Representative Greg Vital (R-Harrison-District 29), who represents some of the most rapidly expanding areas in Hamilton County around Collegedale and Ooltewah, said “There’s no doubt we’re excited about the growth of our community, but we are choking. Our infrastructure and our roads, utilities, and broadband can’t keep up with the rate we are expanding.”

Vital said in a telephone interview with the Times Free Press that Chattanooga has geographical challenges that cause the expansion of roads to be more challenging and expensive than in many other locations in the country.

“We’ve got to face the reality that as much as we love growth, we’ve got to catch up (with infrastructure) or we’re going to scare people away with our congestion. We’re in danger of losing what brought a lot of people here in the first place,” Vital said.

Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp said traffic congestion is something that residents are going to have to become accustomed to as the city continually expands. 

Wamp predicts that the county’s population will grow mostly to the north in future years. In December 2021, Hamilton County acquired the 2,100-acre McDonald Farm in Sale Creek for future industrial, office and recreational development. 

Wamp stated that too much traffic is being funneled onto too few lanes. “We’re going to need some wider roads, and we’re going to need to get broadband completed in Hamilton County,” Wamp said.

Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly noted that growth is necessary to help hold taxes down, especially during the inflation period being seen now. 

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