The city of Ringgold recently added another feature to its ongoing overhaul of the decking at the historic Depot by approving the replacement of the existing aluminum handrails with sturdier steel ones.
Earlier this summer, the project of swapping out the wood decking for wood-stamped concrete and adding additional handicap accessibility to the Depot entrance began. Now, the City Council has approved reinforcing the handrails as well.
During the Oct. 9 City Council meeting, City Manager Dan Wright explained the issues that have existed over the years with the aluminum handrails.
"Approximately 20 years ago when we put that new deck on, we went with aluminum rails, and while they are low maintenance as far as not having to paint them, the problem has been that they will crack and break eventually with the amount of use we see at the Depot," Wright said.
Wright says the initial plan was for the contractor to put the handrails back when the decking work was finished, but that the opportunity for an upgrade is coming at the perfect time with construction already underway.
"They had to remove all those handrails do to the work that they're currently doing at the Depot, and we had money in the bid to put those back up there where they were, and also to provide new ones for our new handicap ramp," Wright explained. "We have a steel handrail proposal of $12,404, and then the contractor, Robert Roberts, is showing a credit of $5,500, which would make the new total $7,594."
Wright said the Depot fund, which is managed by the Convention and Visitor's Bureau, has the money available for upgrade.
"We feel like it would be much easier," Wright said. "That way, if we have one break, we can cut that section out, weld those sections, whatever. We know we'll have to paint them, but the aluminum product we've had up there has been very problematic. It'd be better at this time, while we've got the opportunity, to go ahead and make them steel. That way they'll be there when all of us are somewhere different."
Mayor Nick Millwood and Councilman Larry Black both agreed that the steel works better for the long term.
"I appreciate that we have our hotel/motel tax that goes to our Convention and Visitor's Bureau just for this sort of thing," Millwood said.
"I think this is an excellent change," Black added. "We all know how much we use the Depot. It's a high traffic area with people going in and out constantly, so to go from this aluminum rail to steel rails is an excellent idea."
The bid amount of $7,594 was unanimously approved.
Although crews have been paced with the annual Haunted Depot event going on at the site, the project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.