Huntsville-area governments introduce major cost-shared road program

Huntsville-area leaders are in talks with state transportation officials about a major funding deal to accelerate highway projects throughout Madison County.

Projects on the list include an improved interchange at Interstate 565 and Memorial Parkway in Huntsville, extending I-565 east, and a new connector to Redstone Arsenal from Madison.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Madison Mayor Paul Finley and Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong said the funding agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation would be good. over $500 million that would be split between state money and the three local governments.

According to local leaders, discussions continue on what percentage the state would cover with local governments. The goal is for road projects in the Huntsville area to rise to the top of ALDOT’s priority list with funding made available by local governments.

“Whenever the three entities come together with one voice, we are much stronger,” Finley said.

ALDOT officials did not respond to a request for comment.

The discussed project is similar to the $250 million road restoration program which was evenly split between the state and the city of Huntsville. Now nearing completion, it has funded a host of road projects – including three new promenade viaducts and a fourth still to be built as well as the widening of Research Park Boulevard outside the main entrance to Redstone Arsenal as well as the widening of Cecil Ashburn Drive above Huntsville. Mountain.

The new talks focus on an even broader arrangement that would include projects in Huntsville, Madison and Madison County.

“We had a few conversations with them,” Battle said of ALDOT. “So far they have been open. But you know, a lot of the devil is in the details – exactly how much we’re going to end up spending and how much it’s going to cost and what the roads are.

Strong said local governments had considered providing up to $270 million for a matching program with the state, which is about 40% of the cost of the seven road projects proposed under the arrangement.

“I just think it’s time and I think the city and the county and the two cities are coming together and saying, ‘Hey, we don’t just want the state to do it, we’re saying we’re ready to. step up,'” Strong said. “And when you start floating 40% of local government, that’s a huge commitment and understanding economic development and understanding transportation needs here.”

Battle said details of the negotiations are still ongoing.

“We may be 60/40, we may be 70/30,” Battle said of possible funding splits with the state. “But we’re going to invest more (money) than most communities would just to get priority on road passes.”

The seven road projects under study:

  • I-565 interchange at Memorial Parkway
  • Widening of I-565 in Madison
  • Widening of State Highway 53 to four lanes to Old Railroad Bed Road in North Madison County
  • Widening of US Highway 72 in western Madison County
  • Extension of I-565 over Chapman Mountain and past Shields Road
  • Resolute Way as Madison Boulevard connector to Redstone Arsenal
  • Access road to South Arsenal from I-565 parallel to Memorial Parkway

These projects have been on the wish lists of local leaders for years, but they are becoming increasingly urgent due to the region’s booming population and the fact that it is the economic center not only of the north from Alabama, but also parts of southern Tennessee.

Leaders say the projects will ease worsening congestion spots and improve driver safety.

“I believe Mayor Battle, Mayor Finley, myself, if we just dealt with Madison County, our job would be a lot easier,” Strong said. “But we understand the role we accept and of being the economic leader in creating jobs and jobs. This is what we accept with our jobs. And we understand what needs to be done. But there’s no better way to spend public money than creating better infrastructure so people can commute to and from work every day.

The three local governments coming together on the project are expected to be particularly beneficial for the widening of US 72. The road area targeted for the expansion includes parts of Huntsville, Madison and Madison County – which has complicated plans for the expansion. enlargement in the past.

“I think each of us recognizes that all of our futures are intertwined,” Battle said.

Finley has touted the Resolute Way project as beneficial as his city considers improvements on Madison Boulevard while easing pressure on Redstone Arsenal’s Gate 9. By the time the plans become a reality, more than 50,000 people are expected to work on the Armory, and Gate 9 can sometimes set back more than a mile on Research Park Boulevard.

“It’s just going to make it easier for people to get in and out of the arsenal,” Finley said.

Finley said ideally US 72 would be widened from Providence Main west of Huntsville through parts of Madison County and Madison to County Line Road on the Madison/Limestone County line.

“We have to start,” Finley said. “Even agreeing the funding in place needs to go ahead. We know we’re going to need more money because that’s part of why it’s slowed down. There just wasn’t enough money to do it all (until County Line Road).

Huntsville officials said the I-565/Memorial Parkway interchange was its top priority. It is operating at twice its designed capacity and has only one lane connecting the Interstate Spur and the Parkway in all directions.

This project alone is expected to cost more than $200 million, and Battle has also spoken with federal officials about financial assistance for the upgrades.

Widening Highway 53 from Jeff Road in Harvest about 3½ miles north to Old Railroad Bed Road was another top priority for Strong as well as area state legislators.

“Rather than just doing the next phase, which is a little bit from Jeff Road to Harvest Road, I’m pushing this thing to get it to Old Railroad Bed Road, which will be a big hit on Highway 53 to make this more sure. “, Strong said. “And I think there’s a lot of support for that.”

This highway is also a key corridor for those who work in Huntsville and Madison and live in southern Tennessee.

“We would like to do it in the first half of this year to finalize something,” Battle said. “And knowing that these projects probably won’t start for another two years because there’s obviously engineering to do, architecture, moving utilities and everything else. And it may take four or five years and it will be a project that will start, then we will do the next one, then we will do the next one. And it will be a 10 or 12 year project to complete the projects. But the most important thing is to start. »

About Harold Shirley

Check Also

Alabama’s First Bitcoin Mining Comes to GulfQuest Maritime Museum in Mobile

First bitcoin mining in Alabama is scheduled to begin July 4 and will take place …