Most of the Huntsville and Madison greenways run parallel to creeks and offer mini nature sanctuaries within the city. Ultimately though we want our greenways to connect to other greenways, schools, churches, and the places we work. To do this we must of find a way to traverse major roads which in most cases were designed to take in to consideration only the automobile.
Interstate 565 and Memorial Parkway are two of the major roads in the greater metro area which must be crossed to connect any greenway. The idea of a stand alone project whose sole purpose is a create a safe pedestrian crossing seems unlikely and expensive. Yet in spite of that there are currently two projects in the works that do that very thing.
Governors Drive & Memorial Parkway
Thanks to a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant the City of Huntsville is currently in the preliminary design phase of building a suspension bridge. The bridge promises to be a signature piece to downtown connecting Lowe Mill to Big Spring Park which will do as the grant suggests and generate some economic recovery for areas between the two. The bridge will be modeled after the Liberty bridge in Greenville South Carolina pictured in the photo below from www.mygreenvillehome.com.
This will be an important piece to connecting EVERYTHING. Couple this with other proposed projects you start to see not only the potential of a full east to west connection but also an actual full network of greenways with in the foreseeable future. Those projects include the Red Stone Arsenal (RSA) proposed Exploration Park, the downtown greenway connecting the new City Center Development (The old Holiday Inn) to the medical district, and for good measure add in a branch that reaches Campus 805 and you are cooking with gasoline. You can read more about this in our Huntsville and Madison Greenways Guide.WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL
The other piece of this puzzle is not quite as sexy but just as, if not more so, important. The 565 underpass which will connect Cummings Research Park and Bridge Street to the aforementioned RSA Exploration Park. These to major areas of business employ thousands of people and having a way for them to bike to and from work will reduce traffic and our carbon footprint. An old railroad spur that goes under the interstate will be utilized so no fancy bridge is required but a very active railroad track will need to be crossed and I am intersted to see the final design.
Ultimately there will need to be more than just these two projects to have a full greenway network. The hope is that city officials will ensure that all future roads and major redesign will take into consideration not just cars but pedistrians as well. You know, Complete Streets.