HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A project that’s been planned for more than a decade in the City of Huntsville is nearing fruition, thanks to a $20 million federal grant.
The Pedestrian Access and Redevelopment Corridor — or PARC project — has been on hold for years because of a lack of funding, city officials said. Known unofficially as the skybridge, the project will safely connect the downtown, Mill Creek and Lower Mill communities through greenways and a suspended pedestrian bridge, al.com reported. Those three areas are now separated by two major state and federal roads.
The funding comes from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity grant, administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“We appreciate our partnership with the federal government and this grant, which will help us take Huntsville to the next level,” Mayor Tommy Battle said.
Two other Alabama projects also received funding through similar grants. The town of Cordova received $5.2 million to improve deteriorating roadways and the Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments received $2 million for the Shoals Area Railroad Overpass in Colbert County.
Shane Davis, Huntsville’s director of Urban & Economic Development, said the city’s skybridge project has been a goal since 2006.
“It’s a cable suspension bridge. So it will appear in some elevations that it is floating in the air,” he said.
The project’s total cost has not been finalized but is expected to land somewhere between $45 million and $55 million, he added.
“The completion of the project will provide a safe multimodal hub for pedestrian and bicycle connectivity for multiple areas of Huntsville as well as new downtown recreation opportunities,” Davis said.
The project will include flood mitigation changes that will be made along Pinhook Creek, the east end of the skybridge. It will also boost low-income communities by providing better access to health care and employment opportunities to about 5,000 people who live within a half-mile of the area, officials said.
“This is one of those quality-of-life projects that will have enormous benefits for anyone who lives, works and plays downtown,” Battle said.
Groundbreaking will probably take place in the late spring or summer of 2023 and the project will take up to 2½ years to complete, Davis said.