Where the Streets Have More Names

The Northern Bypass has many names. This is Huntsville, after all, where HWY 72 becomes University Blvd, then Pratt Ave. You can drive north up Patton Rd, Jordan Ln, and HWY 53 without turning. So why should the Northern Bypass be any different?

It is called, depending on who you ask:

1. Alabama State Route 255
2. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
3. Rideout Road
4. Research Park Blvd

And that’s just to name a few.

The Northern Bypass is a popular conversation topic among the MPO staff these days. The project is on both the February 3rd MPO meeting agenda and this week’s June 8th MPO meeting agenda, for entirely different reasons. The City of Huntsville recently submitted a FASTLANE grant application to complete the project, with the help of several MPO staff members. Over the last week, the MPO staff received visitors who live on or around Bob Wade Lane in North Huntsville and Madison County, adjacent to the next phase of the Northern Bypass construction.

Let’s discuss the project’s history, regional significance, and MPO commitment.

The City of Huntsville planned the Northern Bypass for over fifty years. Check out these maps dating back to 1965 with the Northern Bypass clearly shown. Construction began in the 1970’s and continues today.

The City of Huntsville’s Restore Our Roads Program will build the next extension of the Northern Bypass from Pulaski Pike near the Toyota Plant to just east of Memorial Parkway. A recent news story about the Restore Our Roads portion of the Northern Bypass along Bob Wade Lane prompted the MPO’s office visitors. Right of Way purchasing will begin this summer with construction to begin in late 2017. The Right of Way made this week’s MPO agenda. The MPO’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) needs to be amended to increase the cost of Right of Way for this project. The MPO’s Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) voted to approve this amendment on June 6th.

The MPO is a strong supporter of the Northern Bypass. In 2014 and again in 2016, the MPO voted to expedite the Northern Bypass due to its regional significance. The Northern Bypass will connect four major highways on the National Freight Highway Network and the National Highway System: I-565, US HWY 53, US HWY 431-231, and US HWY 72.

Here are before and after images. The first from the DOT shows the completed phases, so far. The second from the City of Huntsville shows planned phases (with the caveat that this map does not portray exact final designs or routes):




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