The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

August 5, 2013

Huntsville mayor stresses importance of northern bypass project

For The News Courier

— Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle believes the future viability of the Huntsville metro area transportation system hinges on the completion of several major roadways, including the proposed northern bypass.

When complete, the bypass would cross North Memorial Parkway, connecting U.S. 72 East to I-565 at Research Park Boulevard. Construction for the one-mile, four-lane section, along Bob Wade Lane from Pulaski Pike to U.S. 72 East, is estimated at $55 million.

“The northern bypass will open thousands of acres for economic development and jobs, similar to what we have experienced with Toyota manufacturing,” Battle said Monday. “This is good for North Huntsville, good for Madison County, and good for the entire North Alabama region.”

Transportation planners say the bypass will provide travelers from North and East Huntsville, Tennessee and Jackson County a direct route to the front door of Redstone Arsenal and Cummings Research Park. The bypass is not one of the 15 pending road projects delayed by the State of Alabama, but its future hinges upon a project that was deferred — the Mastin Lake overpass on North Memorial Parkway.

“The Mastin Lake overpass and the northern bypass are significant economic development projects in regard to metro road projects,” Battle said. “We need these road improvements if we are going to keep pace with the increased traffic commuting in and out of Huntsville each day.

About 60,000 people work in the Redstone/Research Park area, and inbound travelers from the northern and eastern sectors are increasingly frustrated by heavy traffic as they navigate a network of two-lane roads and an incomplete Memorial Parkway.

“The northern bypass would not only provide tremendous relief, it would jump start economic development in this area of Huntsville and Madison County,” said Councilmember Bill Kling. “I fully support funding roads that move traffic and that serve the future of our metro transportation system.”

Traffic engineers project that, within six years, more than 34,000 cars will impact the bypass segment from North Memorial Parkway at Bob Wade Lane along Martin Luther King Boulevard to Alabama 53.

“The clock is ticking and we are running out of time if we are to meet the future demands for economic growth,” Battle said.