How to Fly Right During This Holiday Season

If you have not traveled much this year due to the pandemic, Huntsville International Airport is sharing its “Tips for Air Travel” during the holidays. Vacationers and business travelers will find this advice helpful as well, for cruising through security, passing through the ticketing process, and securely boarding the aircraft.

According to representatives from the Transportation Safety Administration and HSV, travelers can expect to see security officers throughout the terminal wearing face masks and disposable gloves they can discard after pat-downs, while many will also wear eye protection or face shields. 

Travelers can expect less physical contact at each step of the process.

Acrylic barriers have been installed at the terminal to limit exposure between airport personnel, security officers, and travelers during the issuance of your boarding pass and showing an ID. You will notice social distancing leading up to and into the security checkpoint environment; and surfaces in the security checkpoint area are frequently and intensely cleaned and disinfected.

The following procedures will make air travel much faster and less invasive as you travel this holiday season:

  1. Pack Smart! Pack only essential items and avoid packing prohibited items in carry-on bags. Pack liquids, gels and aerosols in small containers and place them in a plastic bag. Pack keys, loose change, wallets, lip balm, tissues, and cellphones into carry-on bags before entering security checkpoints to avoid having to put them into bins.
  2. Follow Universal CDC Guidelines. Wear a mask. Always keep a supply of disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer. Bring a photo ID.
  3. Enroll in TSA PreCheck. TSA Precheck expedites the screening process and reduces touchpoints. Enrollees do not have to remove their shoes, belts, lightweight jackets, electronics, or their bag of travel-size liquids and gels. Click here to Apply for TSA Precheck.
  4. Do Not Wrap Christmas Gifts. Pack gifts without giftwrapping them so that if they trigger an alarm, they will not have to be unwrapped for examination. Gift bags, gift boxes or decorative bows are easy alternatives.
  5. Download the FREE myTSA app. It is the traveler’s best friend and a trusted source for last-minute travel questions. It provides passengers with 24/7 access to the most frequently asked airport security information, and has a helpful tip for preparing for security, including a searchable “Can I Bring” database. The app also keeps travelers up to date on flight delays and provides directions to TSA PreCheck lanes at any airport terminal. The app is available on iTunes or Google Play. 
  6. Properly Prepare Food Items for Travel. As a rule, if you can spill it, spread it, spray it, pump it, or pour it – pack it in a checked bag. Cakes, pies, cookies, and casseroles can travel in carry-on luggage.

If you need to know what items should go in a carry-on bag, or if you have last-minute questions, send them to @AskTSA on Twitter or Facebook Messenger

Helpful travel tips are posted regularly at @TSA and @TSA_Gulf on Twitter. For localized travel information, visit FlyHuntsville.com.

(Photos courtesy of Huntsville International and the TSA)

U.S. 231 Bridges in Morgan County Open to Traffic

Both roadways of U.S. 231 between Lacey’s Spring and Morgan City opened Monday, more than two months ahead of the scheduled deadline. 

The $14.6 million project included twin bridges constructed to safely span the landslide on Brindlee Mountain. The highway was damaged in February by a landslide triggered by torrential rains. Under Gov. Kay Ivey’s state of emergency proclamation, the Alabama Department of Transportation used all means available, including expedited bidding and contract award.

The reopening was celebrated by state legislators and local officials in a ceremony at Ditto Landing in Huntsville. 

“I am proud that the people of Morgan County and surrounding areas will now be able to enjoy an easier and smoother commute on (U.S.) 231,” Ivey said in a statement. “Not only has a repair and improvement been made to the infrastructure, but it was completed more than two months ahead of schedule, thanks to the state working hard with a private sector partner.

“We remain committed to enhancing Alabama’s transportation infrastructure to ensure every Alabamian in all parts of the state can reap the benefits. This is certainly exciting and welcome news.”

ALDOT produced the bridge design on a reduced timeline, advanced one phase of work simultaneous with preparation for the next phase, ordered $4.2 million in custom-fabricated materials in advance to reduce procurement time, and attached substantial incentives/disincentives to the project to spur early completion. 

After Reed Contracting of Huntsville removed about 200,000 cubic yards of dirt and debris from the slide area in May, Brasfield & Gorrie of Birmingham began bridge construction June 1. Brasfield & Gorrie completed the structures in less than four months, despite initial estimates placing the timeline at a year or more. 

“We’ve been honored to work with the Alabama Department of Transportation on this important project in our home state,” said Brasfield & Gorrie Vice President and Division Manager Bryan Myers. “Our accelerated construction plan was developed with the goal of completing the bridges as quickly as possible. Brasfield & Gorrie’s self-perform concrete crews, along with our trade contractors and supplier partners, have worked extremely hard over the past four months to get to this point in the project.

“We’re grateful that we were able to complete this important job well ahead of schedule.” 

The contractor stands to receive nearly $2.5 million in incentive payments for reopening U.S. 231 well ahead of the Dec. 2 deadline. Because some further work items are exempt from the deadline, motorists are advised that the area will remain a work zone and temporary single-lane closures are possible. 

Each bridge is about 1,000 feet long and 44 feet wide, accommodating two 12-foot lanes with 10- foot shoulders, and is constructed on stable foundations— massive drilled shafts socketed in solid rock beneath the landslide. Prior to the closure, a daily average of 10,000 to 15,000 vehicles traveled the road in western Morgan County, about five miles south of Huntsville. 

Huntsville International Airport Flying High After FAA Approves New Master Plan

After months of consulting with and gaining input from community leaders, business owners, and residents on the future of the Huntsville International Airport, a new master plan has been accepted by the Federal Aviation Administration, laying out a new blueprint for the long-term development of the region’s busiest airport.

The new master plan has several goals. Among them:

  • Provide a graphic representation of  airport features, and use anticipated land-use models to lay out any future development.
  • Establish a realistic schedule for the implementation of that proposed development along with a realistic financial plan to support it.
  • Establish a framework for a continuous planning process while taking technical, economic and environmental issues into consideration in that process.

The plan will be presented to the public while addressing relevant issues and satisfying local, state and federal regulations.

According to the FAA, a key objective of the future airport plan is to assure the effective use of airport resources to satisfy aviation demand in a financially feasible manner. The new plan is centrally focused but uses local, state and national guidelines and goals to be efficient in its development.

The project team was led by Michael Baker International, a provider of engineering and consulting services that specializes in municipal governments.

“Huntsville International Airport team members, regional leaders, local business owners, and residents in our community worked in tandem discussing and developing this long-range vision for the airport,” said Rick Tucker, Huntsville International Airport CEO. “This was a collective effort from many individuals that both care about the airport and understand that Huntsville’s economic future is tied to our airport’s success.”

Huntsville International Airport (HSV) is operated by the Port of Huntsville. It was recently named by USA Today as the No. 1 Small Airport in the U.S., and is the largest commercial airport in North Alabama, serving more than 1 million passengers annually.

In Historic Move, Drake State President Named to State Port Authority Board

MONTGOMERY – Dr. Patricia Sims, president of Drake State Community & Technical College, has been appointed by Gov. Kay Ivey to the Alabama State Port Authority Board of Directors.

Drake State President Dr. Patricia Sims (Drake State Photo)

She is the first African-American woman to be appointed to the Port Authority Board. Sims will represent the Northern District, succeeding Al Stanley, whose term expired July 31.

“… It’s an honor to have received this appointment and I intend to execute my role with commitment and integrity,” said Sims. “The Port Authority is an anchor to Alabama’s economy and I look forward to being able to contribute to its continued success.”

Established by the Legislature in 2000, the nine-member Port Authority board holds fiscal and policy oversight for the public seaport. The Port Authority owns and operates Alabama’s deep-water port facilities at the Port of Mobile, one of the nation’s largest seaports.

“I’ve appointed individuals that have consistently demonstrated the necessary knowledge and leadership skills critical to economic expansion in Alabama,” said Ivey. “The success of our port is fundamental to Alabama businesses and jobs …”

The authority’s container, general cargo and bulk facilities handle more than 26 million tons of cargo annual and have immediate access to two interstate systems, five Class 1 railroads, and nearly 15,000 miles of inland waterways.

The cargo and vessel activity associated with the Port Authority employs more than 150,400 Alabamians and generates some $25.4 billion in economic value for the state.

Huntsville International Airport, Junior League Join to Aid Human Trafficking Victims

Huntsville International Airport is equipping its restrooms with signs to help aid victims of human trafficking, thanks to a partnership with the Junior League of Huntsville.

The signs to aid human trafficking vicitimes are displayed in English and Spanish and include the number for the Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline: 1-888-3737-888. (Huntsville International Airport photo)

“Having thwarted a human trafficking attempt inside our own airport” said Jana Kuner, Huntsville International Airport Public Relations Manager. “We realized just how prevalent this issue is in society today and we wanted to do more to be sure that more people knew what to look for and how to seek help.”

The Huntsville Business Journal was the first to publish a story about the incident which happened in January.
In 2017, the Association of Junior Leagues International adopted ABOLISH as an association-wide initiative to scale the movement and unite communities across the United States and beyond in an effort to generate greater awareness of the intractable, systemic issue of child sex slavery. The Junior League of Huntsville adopted Human Trafficking Awareness as a community initiative in 2017 and formally joined the ABOLISH movement in alignment with the AJLI in 2019.
Employees and tenants of Huntsville International Airport are trained utilizing the Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign protocol, “See Something, Say Something.” This national campaign raises public awareness of suspicious activity and reporting the activity to local law enforcement, including the Port of Huntsville’s Public Safety Team.
The signs are in English and Spanish and include the number for the Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline: 1-888-3737-888. The hotline can also be reached by texting “HELP” or “INFO” to 233733, with tipsters encouraged to include tag numbers and car descriptions in their texts.
For more information, visit abolishmovement.org and dhs.gov/blue-campaign.

Mazda Toyota Manufacturing Makes Additional $830M Investment for Technology, Training Programs

Mazda Toyota Manufacturing announced Thursday an additional $830 million investment to incorporate more cutting-edge manufacturing technologies to its production lines and provide enhanced training to its workforce of up to 4,000 employees.

Construction continues on the massive $2.311 billion Mazda Toyota Manufacturing plant. (Photo/MTM)

“This newest investment by our partners at Mazda Toyota Manufacturing shows the company’s continued confidence in the ability of our community to provide a strong, skilled workforce to meet the demands for quality and reliability,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. “We look forward to the day when the first vehicles roll off the line.”

Total funding contributed to the development of the state-of-the-art facility is now $2.311 billion, up from the $1.6 billion originally announced in 2018.

“We are excited to learn of this additional investment being made by Mazda Toyota Manufacturing,” said Limestone County Commission Chairman Collin Daly. “We continue to be grateful to MTM for their belief in our county and look forward to our partnership with them for many years to come.” 

Mazda Toyota Manufacturing made an additional $830 million investment to incorporate more cutting-edge manufacturing technologies to its production lines and provide enhanced training to its workforce. (Photo/MTM)

The investment accommodates production line enhancements made to improve manufacturing processes supporting the Mazda vehicle and design changes to the yet-to-be announced Toyota SUV that will both be produced at the plant.

The new facility will have the capacity to produce up to 150,000 Mazda crossover vehicles and up to 150,000  of the new Toyota SUV each year. 

MTM continues to target up to 4,000 new jobs and has hired approximately 600 employees to date, with plans to resume accepting applications for production positions later this year. Construction of the plant continues, with 75-100 percent of the roofing, siding, floor slabs, ductwork, fire protection and electrical completed. 

“Mazda Toyota Manufacturing is proud to call Alabama home,” said Mark Brazeal, MTM vice president of administration said. “Through strong support from our state and local partners, we have been able to further incorporate cutting-edge manufacturing technologies, provide world-class training for team members and develop the highest quality production processes.

“As we prepare for the start of production next year, we look forward to developing our future workforce and serving as a hometown company for many years to come.” 

 

 

Huntsville Awarded $12.5M Federal Grant for Multimodal Transit Station

Just a couple weeks after rebranding the city’s transit system, Huntsville has been awarded a $12.5 million grant to build another transfer station and renovate the current station off Church Street.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced today the Federal Transit Administration will make the award. Some $464 million in infrastructure grants to 96 projects in 49 states and territories were awarded to improve the safety and reliability of America’s bus systems. Huntsville was the only Alabama city to receive a grant.

Huntsville will receive $12.5 million to construct a multimodal transfer station and renovate its existing operating facility. The project will improve safety and reliability, and accommodate growing ridership for Huntsville Transit.

“This grant will provide a major upgrade in our transportation system,” said Mayor Tommy Battle. “When complete, we’ll be able to provide more services for those who want and need alternative methods of transit.”

Transportation Director Tommy Brown said the new transfer station will be able to accommodate additional buses, taxis, Greyhound, and ride-share programs such as Uber and Lyft.

“As we look to add more routes and options to our transportation network, we’ll need an expanded facility for our central hub,” said Brown. “Our population and demand for service is growing and this puts us in a great position for the next 20 years to accommodate ridership and improve our reliability and efficiency.”

The multimodal transit facility will be built on the site of the old Sherman Concrete plant just off of Church Street and Pratt Avenue. The city acquired the property to make room for the University Drive/Church Street roadway improvement project, now under construction.

“Moving the transfer station will give us more room for waiting areas and public amenities like charging stations for cell phones, laptops and even electric vehicles,” said Brown. “Following this project, we’ll add a new building at our existing location with services for bus drivers such as a lunch room, break rooms, locker facilities, automated bus wash and employee parking.”

Phase 1 of the project is expected to cost approximately $15.7 million. Phase II renovations on Cleveland are estimated at about $3.4 million.

“We can’t start tomorrow because of the Church Street road project, but hopefully we’ll get started in 2021 and be open by 2022,” said Brown.

The funding is from the FTA’s Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Program.