The lighting project was set to cost the city $4 million from its motel/hotel tax fund. (Photo: Contributed)

City officials removed a proposed lighting project, which recently drew criticism, for the Walnut Street Bridge from the 2018-2019 fiscal year budget Tuesday.

Because of the bridge’s historical significance, the city must secure approvals from the Tennessee State Historic Preservation Office and the Tennessee Department of Transportation to ensure the bridge’s character will not be compromised by the new design before the project can move forward, officials said.

“We feel the most prudent move we can make at this point would be to remove the lighting project from the City Council’s consideration of the FY19 budget,” City Communications Director Richel Albright said in an email. “This will allow us the time we need to continue to move this project through a complicated and time-intensive regulatory and approval process.”

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Last week, the project received criticism from city council members and citizens because some said that the money could be more wisely spent.

The budget allocated $4 million of internal funds and external donations for the project.

Internal funds come from motel/hotel taxes and may only be used on riverfront projects or to pay off the 21st Century Waterfront project.

About $1.3 million from the motel/hotel taxes will remain in the budget for basic electrical work that will pair with the bridge’s renovations and repairs.

Alina Hunter-Grah is a contributing writer. She is a graduate of The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she received a bachelor’s degree in communication with a minor in political science. Alina has over three years of journalism experience including time spent with CNN and 2nd & Church, a magazine based in Nashville, Tennessee. You can reach Alina at [email protected] or on Twitter @alinahuntergrah

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