Huntsville’s new ‘skybridge’ project to break ground next spring

PARC Project Skybridge 4
Ground will be broken next spring on the PARC — or “skybridge” project over Memorial Parkway. (City of Huntsville)

Construction on the much-ballyhooed pedestrian access bridge — better known as the “skybridge” — over Memorial Parkway is expected to begin around this time next year, according to a new report.

The bridge project will take approximately 30 months to complete. Here’s what we know:

Breaking ground on the ‘skybridge’

PARC project illustration
The skybridge is expected to take around 30 months to complete. (City of Huntsville)

According to an report, Huntsville’s director of urban and economic development Shane Davis told the Downtown Redevelopment Authority that the construction will begin next spring, and should take about 30 months to complete.

The $62 million project is a multimodal pedestrian access and redevelopment corridor, or PARC. And while the project includes a variety of different elements, the part of the project generating all of the buzz is the walkway planned over Memorial Parkway, dubbed the “skybridge.”

The PARC project was originally floated 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. So reducing the floodplains is as much of a benefit of the project as the skybridge.

Davis told that the bridge is what people are talking about, but it is less than half of the overall project.

“Everybody talks about the skybridge. It’s the very pretty shiny object.”

Shane Davis, Huntsville director of urban and economic development to

The PARC project

PARC Project Skybridge
The skybridge is only about 20 percent of the PARC project. (City of Huntsville)

The PARC project was made possible by a $20 million Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the project. But the idea has been in the works for many years.

The project was originally put on the table about 20 years ago as a flood mitigation effort to reduce the floodplains along Pinhook Creek through the downtown core as well as address pedestrian access. The project was placed on hold until 2016 when officials resurrected the plan.

The PARC project is more than just a bridge, in that it addresses multiple solutions for the community. The benefits of the project include:

  • It identifies vital greenway connections that make up the Greenway Master Plan.
  • It fills gaps in downtown bike connections included in the City’s Bikeway Plan.
  • PARC would also 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.
  • The project will replace the old wooden railroad bridge built in 1939 with a concrete Class I bridge.
  • 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.

“The floodplain creates unusable land and prevents improvements to be made to existing structures within downtown. (PARC) will provide a larger channel with usable recreation space to help reduce flood elevations and allow improvements to the downtown landscape, to include many added benefits of greenway and sidewalk connectivity and safety improvements as they relate to alternate modes of transportation within the area.”

Huntsville’s Director of Engineering Kathy Martin

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Michael Seale
Michael Seale
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