District 5 outlook: Huntsville’s ‘growth spurt’ presents opportunity for better connectivity

single-meta-cal January 30, 2018

City Blog has been taking a look at what’s in store in 2018 in each of the City of Huntsville’s five districts, through the eyes of their council representatives. Today, in the last of the series: Will Culver, District 5.

View City Council district boundary lines via this map.

Anyone who has parented a teenager can remember those growth-spurt times, like when the ankle-length jeans of last spring become mid-calf by the next fall, when baggy evolves into too-tight.

Council Member Will Culver can relate. Huntsville’s growth spurt of the last several years has perhaps most affected District 5, which covers the western outreaches of the city, including the 38.9 square miles of annexed land in Limestone County.

“Our footprint,” Culver said, “is astronomical.”

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Granted, much of the Limestone land is agricultural or being targeted for industrial development – like the next Toyota-Mazda operation – but there are many pockets of residential growth. The presence of Madison in the middle of the expansion is a geographical and logistical barrier.

Public services are a major concern to Culver, who says, “We’ve got some real challenges there.” Public works routes are stretched even farther. The closest police precinct is on Clinton Ave. Fire stations are being built out west, but with large areas to cover.

Culver held a number of town hall meetings last year with residents in those more far-flung areas and was joined by Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray, Huntsville Fire and Rescue Chief Howard McFarlen and some of their aides.

“They’ve been very supportive,” Culver said. “We’ve been meeting and planning with them. It’s a matter of time and budget, and we’ll be able to satisfy all those concerns.”

Zierdt and Martin roads on track

The on-going work on Zierdt and Martin roads is constantly on Culver’s radar. Zierdt is being widened to a four-lane road from Madison Blvd. to Martin Road, and Martin will be extended from inside Gate 7 at Redstone Arsenal to connect to the Huntsville International Airport area.

The 30-month project will still be completed on time, but it has had its hiccups, some of them unexpected. Residents overwhelmingly requested bike and pedestrian lanes to accompany the road widening, but that meant more land to acquire.

Stay updated on routine roadwork and milestones for the City’s major road projects via “Roadwork Updates on HuntsvilleAL.gov

“Some of the land acquisitions and right-of-ways are tied up in court, which takes it out of our hands,” Culver said. “We’ve had about 20 or 30 of them, and we’re down to five that we’re waiting on. We know we’re going to get it done and when you go out there, you can see progress with traffic lights, signaling and other work going in.”


Watching MidCity in 2018

If there is a personal to-do list item Culver is eager to check off, it’s to get his golf clubs and head to Topgolf, which anchors the MidCity development on University Drive. Another appointment forced him to miss the grand opening, though he’s visited the site.

“Man, that thing is amazing,” he said. “What I’m hoping now is we can move forward with a lot of the other mom-and-pop kind of businesses around there, another anchor that’s coming in, so we can get on with the other phases, the apartments and the hotel, as well as the 150,000 square feet of office space.”

Culver noted the addition of two other major retail giants, in the new Publix on Old Monrovia Road and the Rooms To Go on University Drive.

“In 2018,” he said, “I’m excited and looking forward to a lot of other businesses and relationship-building opportunities.”