By Kari Hawkins, USAG Redstone January 9, 2013
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- As a commuting installation, traffic affects everyone working and living on Redstone Arsenal.
And, it's the Garrison's job to work to ensure a smooth traffic flow. It's a simple fact, as Arsenal facilities continue to expand and missions increase, consequently the number of employees and visitors will also increase with additional employees and visitors.
In 2012 as well as 2013, the primary focus of Garrison traffic studies and improvements will be the Martin Road/Gate 7 corridor and the Rideout Road/Gate 9 corridor, said installation traffic engineer Tom Richardson, who works for the Garrison's Directorate of Public Works.
"We've got about 40,000 vehicles every week day coming on and off post," he said. "We are working to make our roads as safe as possible, and to make our roads convenient for the Arsenal community. We monitor and make changes as needed to ensure good traffic flow."
In 2012, the Neal and Mills Road intersection and parts of Marshall Road were rebuilt to add turn lanes and to improve access.
"The need to expand those roads was directly related to the new buildings we got with the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure recommendations," Richardson said. "We will continue to keep an eye on these roads in the Von Braun Complex area to ensure that traffic flows smoothly."
Also in 2012, the Arsenal community saw the opening of the new Gate 7 access control point, which was the last one to be upgraded. Those who travel Martin Road on a regular basis also saw the first component of the $10 million Martin Road four-lane widening project from Gate 7 to Rideout Road.
"Utility relocation and tree clearing all along the route was accomplished in 2012," Richardson said. "Communications, electrical and water were all relocated. We now have an open corridor ready for construction."
Martin Road travelers should see that road construction beginning in the spring/summer timeframe, he said. A project of the City of Huntsville and the Alabama Department of Transportation, Martin Road construction bids will be accepted and opened in early 2013.
"The Martin Road project will be a big priority in terms of getting that going and making sure it's done right," Richardson said.
"The City of Huntsville will be managing the project, so people will see city inspectors and construction managers along the route. Once the construction starts, we will be working with them to make sure it's built by the contractor to the standard we expect and need."
It will take about 18 months to complete the road widening, and Richardson cautioned Martin Road travelers to be extra cautious once construction begins.
"Unfortunately, the way the existing roadway is aligned and because of some constraints, we can't leave the existing two lanes of Martin Road undisturbed while connecting to new lanes," Richardson said.
"There will be pretty significant lane shifts in the construction phase, yet we won't be closing Martin Road. One parameter of the project is to have Martin Road remain open throughout the construction. But traffic will be impacted by construction. Drivers will need to give themselves more time to get to and from work, and they need to pay close attention to directional signage."
Once the project is complete, Martin Road will be a four-lane road from Gate 1 to the east side of the installation all the way to Gate 7 on the west side of the installation.
"The city is actively developing plans and identifying funding to expand Martin/James Record Road west of the Arsenal as well as the segment of Zierdt Road that extend north of the Arsenal from Gate 7," Richardson said.
At the Rideout Road/Gate 9 corridor, the Garrison added a third outbound lane in 2012 and two inbound lanes to help with traffic flow during peak times.
"We are working to minimize the impact of traffic related to the Redstone Gateway" (the 468-acre enhanced use lease development adjacent to the Gate 9 area to its west), Richardson said.
"The additional lanes going southbound into the Arsenal will help both Redstone Gateway traffic and Arsenal traffic. We are working closely with the developers and engineers of Redstone Gateway to accommodate the needs of the workers driving into the Arsenal and onto Gateway."
Goss Road was modified with a new westbound exit in 2012. Goss Road has also been redesigned and will be constructed to extend south along Rideout Road and will then connect with Rideout Road at a traffic light.
"We expect Goss Road construction to begin in 2013," Richardson said. "It is a City of Huntsville managed project. There are still some hurdles in terms of approvals that we still need to make this happen."
Also in 2012, road infrastructure in the Gate 10 area was improved to accommodate traffic for the One Stop. During 2013, Zeus Road will be turned into a pedestrian walk area to accommodate employees locating to the area's newly renovated buildings.
While Richardson and other DPW employees concentrate on road improvements on-post, Garrison commander Col. John Hamilton has been a strong voice in the community to ensure road off-post are improved to accommodate Arsenal employee traffic patterns.
"We have a great relationship with the local community and with the state in coming together jointly on priorities for the road networks that support people commuting into the City of Huntsville and into Redstone Arsenal," he said.
Garrison representatives are working with officials from Huntsville, Madison, Madison County and other regional communities to determine road requirements and priorities throughout the Tennessee Valley.
"We're looking at those road networks based on where people are buying houses and where we're seeing the greatest demands. We are helping to identify road projects that need to get planned and that need to get resourced in the next few years," Hamilton said.
For instance, expanding Martin/James Record Road from Gate 7 to the Huntsville International Airport will have a tremendous positive impact on the flow of traffic into Gate 7 as well as alleviate some of the traffic at Gate 9. Improvements along the Highway 53/Research Park Boulevard corridor, and improvements as far away from the Arsenal as the Winchester Road/Memorial Parkway corridor in northeastern Madison County will also support the traffic flow onto the Arsenal.
"Road improvements in those areas will certainly improve traffic and travel time for people coming into the region," Hamilton said.
"The 35,000 people that come to work on the Arsenal every day are coming from throughout North Alabama as well as South Tennessee. So, as we look at where they all live we've got to make sure to have a road network that gets them from their home into Redstone Arsenal.
"We can't look just on the Arsenal or we can't look just a mile or two off the Arsenal. The reality is we have to look way out to the region where our employees are coming from and we continue to grow the road network."
As inconvenient as road work may be, the outcome of all these projects will have a significant positive impact for the Arsenal as well as the region.