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Ivey Announces I-565 Widening Project

MONTGOMERY – Following through on a campaign promise, Gov. Kay Ivey announced Wednesday a widening project for heavily traveled I-565.

She also said a second project will expand the I-65 interchange at Tanner.

The two major transportation projects were selected by the Alabama Department of Transportation for the Rebuild Alabama Act First Year Plan 2020.

The first project includes resurfacing and revising lanes on Interstate 565 from Interstate 65 to County Line Road to provide an additional lane in each direction through the partial use of shoulders, making it a six-lane interstate. The second project will allow for the expansion of the interchange on I-65 at Tanner and widening Browns Ferry Road to be extended westward across to U.S. 31.

“While the Huntsville and surrounding areas are booming with continual economic growth, it was imperative we make enhancements to their infrastructure system for the nearly 60,000 vehicles traveling on I-565 daily. Both improvement projects will be significant strides for this area,” Ivey said. “This will improve the daily commute for several thousand drivers and provide access to the new Mazda-Toyota joint assembly plant. When we began on the road to Rebuild Alabama, I promised our state would see real results, real improvements and a promising future, and we’re certainly delivering on that.”

Both improvement projects will greatly increase access to the Mazda-Toyota Manufacturing plant development, relieve congestion on I-565 and will help pave the way for further economic growth.

“The state of Alabama and the city of Huntsville continue to be great partners to spur growth in this area, as well as across the state. We saw it when Alabama landed the coveted Mazda-Toyota joint assembly plant, and we’re seeing it today with the announcement of these two important infrastructure projects,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said. “Governor Ivey has been instrumental to our recent successes, and I was proud to support her in her efforts to Rebuild Alabama. Adding lanes to this critical corridor ensures our continued economic growth.”

Ivey signed the Rebuild Alabama Act into law March 12, after it received overwhelming bipartisan support in the Alabama Legislature. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bill Poole and Sen. Clyde Chambliss, gradually increases Alabama’s fuel tax over the next three years.

“I commend Governor Ivey’s leadership in passing Rebuild Alabama and her commitment to keep Alabama growing,” Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon said. “Additional lanes on Interstate 565 will greatly reduce congestion and aid commerce in one of the fastest growing regions of our state. I, along with my colleagues, are pleased to see such quick returns from the Rebuild Alabama Act passing.”

Beginning in January, state, county, and municipal governments in Alabama will begin to see additional revenue from the fuel tax increase of six-cents which begins in September. In fact, once the 10-cent increase is fully implemented in 2021, Madison County will receive an additional $3.5 million dollars and Limestone County will receive $1.27 million, on top of what they already receive, to be used for various transportation infrastructure projects.

Multi-use development planned for former Coca-Cola plant site

For some time, there have been questions and rumors about the site of the former Coca-Cola plant on Clinton Avenue.

Now, the questions have been answered and rumors dispelled.

Rocket Development Partners of New York City owns the 13-acre property and have a vision for its use.

“There’s going to be a mixed-use development on the site,” said Mitch Rutter, a principal with Rocket Development. “It will be heavily residential with some office components. We’re not going to overload with retail.

“It will be a live-work facility … modeled after The Gulch area of Nashville.”

He said some of the residential units will be “geared toward artists’ and musicians’ housing” because of its proximity to the Von Braun Center and Museum of Art.

Rutter suggested that some companies with their main offices in Cummings Research Park may opt to also open an office in the project “to help with their recruiting.”

He did not dismiss the possibility of a hotel also being built at the corner of Clinton Avenue and Monroe Street, “if the right hotel came along. We’re not going to be building or operating it.”

Rutter credited Mayor Tommy Battle and city officials for being “very practical” and said the city’s team was a major factor in developing the project here.

“It’s not by chance; we have a process (on project decisions) … and study econometrics,” he said. “Huntsville is blessed with triangulating factors: job growth with good wages; population growth; and the leadership team.

“They have a long-term Huntsville vision. That long-term plan, which includes the Von Braun Center expansion, renovation of Pinhook Creek, greenways and bikeways, is geared to accelerate the growth of downtown.”

Rutter said his company has retained Huntsville architect Paul Matheny and Urban Design Associates, who developed the city’s long-term plan.

“We’re very focused to create the density to bring people who want to live and work here,” he said. “It’s really very exciting.” 

Theme of this year’s SMD Symposium focuses on ‘peer adversaries’

The 21st annual Space and Missile Defense Symposium runs Aug. 7-9 at the Von Braun Center.

What began as a local gathering of enthusiastic space and missile defense professionals more than 20 years ago, has evolved into one of the most anticipated, informative, and influential national public conferences on the defense of our nation.

The 21st Annual Space and Missile Defense Symposium opens Aug. 7 at the Von Braun Center and runs through Aug. 9.

Embraced by the Missile Defense Agency and the Department of Defense, Brig. Gen. Bob McCaleb and Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle will welcome enterprise level professionals from the missile defense community, military leaders, and allies from the United States and abroad.

According to Joe Fitzgerald, an original member of the SMD Symposium’s executive committee and two-time past chairman of the event, the 2018 theme, “Sharpening the Military’s Competitive Edge,” marks a fundamental shift in the way industry professionals have looked at the threats our country faces for many years.

“This year’s Space & Missile Defense Symposium will bring to the forefront the realization that the United States has peer adversaries,” he said. “That is, not just threats from rogue nations like Iran and North Korea, but very real threats from countries across the globe who are our equals.”

He said the symposium will address the important part missile defense plays in the survival and security of our nation.

“You will see a recognition that we face challenges meeting those threats, and that we must put more resources into missile defense technologies associated with those threats to ensure our nation’s future, and to assure the defense of our nation. Victory is not assured,” Fitzgerald said. “therefore, we must work to maintain our competitive edge, and by edge, we mean superiority.”

This year’s SMD Symposium will address all aspects of these challenges.

Conference Opening

Gen. John Hyten is a graduate of Grissom High School

Beginning Tuesday morning, Gen. John Hyten, senior commander of the United States Strategic Command, will open the symposium by outlining Space and Missile Defense Imperatives. USSTRATCOM is one of 10 unified commands in the Department of Defense representing all four unified branches of the military.

Among the topics he is expected to discuss is the importance of innovation related to space and the military’s interdependence on space, national security, and the global economy.

In a December 2017 article in SpaceNews, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy Stephen Kitay said the modernization of missile-warning satellites has been a topic of recent conversations with leaders from U.S. Air Force Space Command, U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Northern Command. So, will Hyten,  a graduate of Huntsville’s Grissom High School, offer any insights into the future of a new Space Force as recently proposed by the current administration?

“I think Space Force is likely to come up given Gen. Hyten’s relationship with the Air Force Space Command,” said Fitzgerald. “Advanced forces surely add flavor to his thought process, and any future Space Force plans are bound to affect Huntsville for sure.”

Lt. Gen. James Dickinson, Commanding General of the United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command follows Hyten with a Space and Missile Defense update and, later, Col. William Darne, the Training & Doctrine Command Capabilities Manager for the Army Air and Missile Defense, will give an update on the AMD’s Cross-Functional Teams.

After lunch Tuesday, Dr. Tom Karako, Senior Fellow and International Security Program Director for the Missile Defense Project, will speak on adapting Joint Air and Missile Defense Operations to the Near Peer Threat. The Missile Defense Project researches innovative means for defeating missile threats and hosts a variety of events to shape the debate about policy, budgets, legislation, and both current and future programs.

Both Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, Technology Track gives a variety of selected candidates an opportunity to present innovative technical ideas, methods, and processes regarding cyber resiliency, testing and development, and weapon system performance testing and validation.

Several moderators will host a Multi-Domain Battle Panel Tuesday afternoon. Created by the Army, Multi-Domain Battle allows U.S. forces to outmaneuver adversaries physically and cognitively by applying combined arms in and across all domains of war – that is, land, sea, air, space and cyberspace – cyber being the newest domain, and with underpinnings in every aspect of strategic warfare.

Wednesday & Thursday Features

The programs Wednesday include the MDA’s Focus For the Future presented by Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, director of the MDA; an Allied Update by Air Commodore Madelein Spit, Assistant Director of NATO Joint Air Power Competence Center; and an update from Brig. Gen. Robert Rasch Jr. on the Programs Executive Office Missiles and Space, which provides centralized management for Army Air and Missile Defense and Tactical Missile Programs, as well as selected Army Space programs to meet warfighter multidomain and full spectrum operation requirements.

There will be two Industry and Technology panels Wednesday focused singularly on missile defense with a variety of guests participating including major original equipment manufacturers  and developers of our nation’s missile defense systems. They will talk about the technology challenges, and what the R&D industry is doing to meet those challenges.

On Wednesday evening, prior to an invitation-only VIP reception, Northrop Grumman will host the “Salute to the Warfighter” at its exhibition space. A presentation recognizing and honoring all U.S. warfighters involves a formal salute followed by a networking social and then dinner.

On Thursday, Holly Haverstick, Chief of Weapons for Defense Support of Civil Authorities, will speak on security cooperation efforts in support of missile defense; followed by Rebeccah Heinrichs, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, who will close out the symposium with a talk concerning Space and Missile Defense Imperatives.

Awards & Recognitions

Throughout the week, various industry groups will present a variety of awards such as the Air, Space and Missile Defense Association Scholarship and the Julian Davidson Award, awarded by the National Space Club to an individual or organization that has shown great achievement in advancing space flight programs, and has contributed to U.S. leadership in the field of rocketry and astronautics.

The John Medaris Award, given to an individual from the Tennessee Valley who has made outstanding contributions to the defense industrial base, will be awarded to Dr. J. Richard (Dick) Fisher, Executive Director of the Missile Defense and Space Technology Center.  

“The entire conference is laid out to be an exposé on meeting the challenges of a peer adversary, while focusing our efforts on ways to give our soldiers a competitive edge that is superior to anyone else in the world,” said Fitzgerald.

 

South Huntsville is open for business! Ribbon cut for South Parkway overpasses

Gov. Kay Ivey, with Mayor Tommy Battle to her right, cuts the ribbon to open the South Memorial Parkway overpasses. State and local officials also joined in the ceremony Tuesday. (Photo by Steve Babin)

After 2 1/2 years and snail’s-pace stop-and-go traffic, the ribbon was cut today for the South Parkway overpasses at Byrd Spring and Lily Flagg roads.

“We’re happy today to be able to open this stretch of South Memorial Parkway,” said Tommy Harris of the Alabama Department of Transportation, that came in a year ahead of schedule.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held atop the Byrd Spring Road overpass and it was attended by Gov. Kaye Ivey, Mayor Tommy Battle and other state and local officials.

Mayor Tommy Battle presents the “Restore our Roads” traffic cone to Gov. Kay Ivey (Photo by Steve Babin)

And it also enables the city to “keep the magic 18-minute commute,” Battle said.

“This is the largest project in the city of Huntsville, totaling $250 million,” Ivey said. “When we work together, we can make infrastructure and economic improvements.”

Battle also recognized the teamwork among state and local government and presented a highway cone commemorating the “Restore Our Roads Project No. 2” to Ivey.

“This road system is probably the best example of governments working together,” he said. “This effort enables our community to grow.

“This is a great day for our city.”

David Harris, vice president of Reed Contracting and representing the joint-venture team with Miller & Miller, was appreciative of the patience shown by merchants, motorists and residents.

And he offered some welcome news.

“I thank all the business owners, residents and travelling public for your patience,” he said. “By the end of the day, traffic should be flowing.”

‘Main Street Alabama’ designation to make South Huntsville a ‘special place’

Main Street Alabama President Mary Helmer

There may be no specified downtown nor an entertainment district per se.

In fact, South Huntsville’s “main street” is a four-lane divided highway that carries a U.S. route designation.

But, the area that stretches from roughly south of Governors to drive to the Tennessee River is a Main Street Alabama community.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to work with you guys,” Mary Helmer, Main Street Alabama president and state coordinator, said at a news conference Tuesday at the Doubletree Suites. “You’ll know when you arrive, you’re in a special place.”

Helmer said the work will start in early August when a resource team visits to develop a transformation strategy. The team includes Helmer and a group of national experts and the entire process will take place “over the next two or three years,” she said.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle

South Huntsville Business Association President Jerry Cargile

Mayor Tommy Battle said a key to the transformation is the completion of the Parkway overpasses at Byrd Spring Road and Logan Drive/Lily Flagg Road – which he called “disruptive construction.”

“When the Parkway is opened, it bring the market to here,” he said. “All of a sudden, within a 10-minute drive, you have 200,000 people.”

Jerry Cargile, president of the South Huntsville Business Association, is looking forward to the economic growth the “Main Street Alabama” label will bring to the community.

“The journey begins today,” he said. “From a surviving district to one that is thriving.”