Huntsville secures $20 million grant for pedestrian access bridge project

PARC Project Skybridge 4
The City of Huntsville secured a $20 million federal grant for a project that would include a pedestrian access bridge. (City of Huntsville)

The City of Huntsville in April applied for a Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation that would include a suspended bridge over some Huntsville’s busiest roadways. The city announced today that it has been approved for a $20 million grant toward the project.

The project, officially called the pedestrian access and redevelopment corridor, or PARC, has taken on the common name of the “skybridge” since word of the project was introduced.

PARC project goals

PARC Project Skybridge
This photo rendering depicts the proposed path of a suspended bridge over U.S. 231 and U.S. 431 in Huntsville. (City of Huntsville)

The PARC project was originally introduced nearly two decades ago as a flood mitigation effort to reduce the floodplains along Pinhook Creek through the downtown core, as well as address pedestrian access.

The PARC project has been on the city’s wish list for a while, but funding shortfalls kept the project in a holding pattern. The $20 million RAISE grant, administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation, ensures PARC can move ahead.

“Huntsville welcomes the RAISE grant, which will allow us to take property out of flood zones, enhance connectivity and improve our transportation grid along Pinhook Creek. We appreciate our partnership with the federal government and this grant, which will help us take Huntsville to the next level.”

Mayor Tommy Battle

Here are some details of the PARC project:

  • The project will safely connect the downtown, Mill Creek and Lowe Mill communities via greenways and a suspended pedestrian bridge. These three areas are currently separated by two major state and federal roadways: U.S. 231 and U.S. 431/AL53. 
  • The project will also include major enhancements along Pinhook Creek in the downtown district to reduce flooding and improve the floodplain along the creek.
  • Upon completion, the Pinhook Creek area will feature new public recreation amenities while also connecting multiple neighborhoods.
  • Huntsville plans to commit more than $37 million to offset the remaining costs of the project.
  • PARC would also allow the City to create new linear parks, landscaping and hardscapes. New retaining walls would also stop erosion near the Von Braun Center.
  • City officials say the project will also offer a significant boost to low-income communities by providing access to health care and employment opportunities to about 5,000 people who live within a half mile of the project area.

Why pedestrian access to downtown is important

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Pedestrian access to downtown allows more Huntsvillians to utilize the businesses, services and recreation that the area provides. (Nathan Watson / Hville Blast)

PARC would provide an economic boost to low-income communities by connecting nearly 5,000 people living within a half-mile radius to vital health care and jobs. The city estimates about 22% of those residents live in public housing and more than 26% do not have access to a vehicle.

Mayor Tommy Battle said the project will not only provide a lifeline to underserved areas, but it will also improve safety and offer a “new and unique way for residents and visitors to explore our great city.”

“This project has been a continuous goal for the City since 2006. 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. Over time, the City will use this project to connect north and south Huntsville, Five Points, Lowe Mill, John Hunt Park and even Research Park with alternate modes of mobility.”

Shane Davis, Huntsville’s Director of Urban & Economic Development

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Michael Seale
Michael Seale
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