A recent social media post from a resident of the Edgewater community off Zierdt Road at Lady Anne Lake said, “Things That Have No End: The Universe, numbers, Pi, and Zierdt Road construction.”
Without a doubt, for those living in the midst of the “mess,” it must seem like a black hole.
But the good news is that with the lane shift from the southbound lanes to the northbound lanes on Zierdt in early September, motorists are now traversing the new Zierdt Road – marking Phase IV and the beginning of the end of the $25 million road project.
There has been a lot of frustration about the project because in 2010, it began as a $7 million widening project at the intersection of Madison Boulevard and Zierdt Road.
Because there wasn’t a lot of funding at the time and Town Madison and Toyota Field were not on anyone’s radar, the original plan consisted of a four-phased approach to widening the 3.5-mile stretch from Madison Boulevard to Martin Road outside Redstone Arsenal Gate 7 from two lanes to four.
Each of the four phases were estimated to take two to four years to complete.
Then, in April 2017, public input sessions resulted in the addition of a pedestrian and bike path. The 12-foot-wide multiuse path was added on the west side, changing the scope of work significantly and increasing the budget to $25 million.
As messy as it may seem, this current phase of Zierdt Road includes new drainage, curb, subgrade, paving and the multiuse path for the remainder of the project duration.
The final phase (IV) of improvements will also consist of two southbound lanes, seven lanes at the intersection of Martin and Zierdt roads, and six lanes at the intersection of Madison Boulevard and Zierdt Road.
While the project has had its share of hiccups due to fluctuations in funding, according to the City of Huntsville, they have been able to make up some time during the pandemic due to the significantly decreased traffic flow.
For residents. the hindrance has been complete but, for the construction crews, residential traffic has been a hindrance.
Although it is only 3 1/2 miles long, Zierdt could not be shut down entirely because of the significant residential population along that stretch of road.
As Kelly Schrimsher, Communications Director at the City of Huntsville, points out, it is significantly more difficult to reconstruct a road when it is in use.
“When you build a new road, you keep it closed until it is finished and passable,” she said. “Or if you look at the road construction off Research Park Boulevard, that work seems to move along without much traffic disruption because they are widening it from the center median and traffic is unaffected.
“Zierdt was always a heavily traveled two-lane road with access to Redstone Arsenal Gate 7, access to the airport, a lot of residential communities, and now Town Madison with the new Toyota Field – which was not a consideration when the project was initiated.”
All residents of the neighborhoods on Mountainbrook, Edgewater and Nature’s Way can see, however, is the demolition and reconstruction of the original southbound lanes that were the main access into those apartment complexes and communities.
But regardless of how it looks, city engineers promise the end is coming soon and it will be great.