U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, announced Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Transportation granted the City of Huntsville a total of $8,000,000 for rail infrastructure and safety improvements along Old Highway 20.
“I am pleased to hear that this funding will allow for improvements to Old Highway 20 in Huntsville,” said Senator Shelby. “This project will preserve and enhance the city’s transportation system for years to come, as well as make necessary safety developments that are crucial to the success and reliability of North Alabama’s rail system.”
The funding will provide for an overpass initiative to eliminate congestion and improve traffic conditions in light of the future Toyota-Mazda plant, which will be located along the two-lane highway and bring 4,000 new commuters to the highway daily. The project also includes the repair of potholes and resurfacing of roads in order to improve motorists’ travel experience and boost drivers’ safety.
“These investments in intercity passenger and freight rail will benefit surrounding communities, make grade crossings safer and improve service reliability,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
The Old Highway 20 project is being conducted in three phases. The first phase began in the fall of 2018, and the second and third phases are anticipated to be completed by late 2020. The project is funded through both local and federal funds.
Huntsville is making a concerted effort, along with its national and state partners, to improve the transportation infrastructure into and around the city.
“Our transportation needs are changing, and the City is focused on meeting the needs of our growing community,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle (R). “We’re constantly working to improve major transportation corridors to move traffic, enhance public transit, and we’re modifying some of our internal, minor collectors to make it safer for cars, bikes and people.”
Huntsville is on pace to overtake Birmingham as the largest city in the state of Alabama. The Mazda-Toyota plant will bring thousands of jobs to the Huntsville area; but along with that will be greater demands on the area’s infrastructure.
Richard Shelby is the Chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.