The Big Picure: Your Study. Your Vision. Your Plan for the City of Huntsville

Northwest Subarea

The Northwest Subarea is among the most rapidly growing districts in metro Huntsville, but is at the same time wrestling with some of the hallmarks of sprawl-generated disinvestment.  The sub-area is significantly impacted by Highway 72 West, and therefore most concerns are related to issues of mobility and disinvestment.

Subareas
 Downtown  North  West Central  East Central  Northwest  East  Southeast  Southwest

Vision

  • Traffic flows well, particularly along main corridors. There is an alternative route network that reduces demand on main corridors and provides multiple paths to major destinations.
  • Local governments coordinate regularly regarding growth concerns.
  • A high-efficiency transit network serves the area, particularly along the 72 corridor.
  • There are sufficient cultural and recreation amenities – such as parks, greenways, and recreation centers –to accommodate the residential development in the region.
  • Underperforming and blighted commercial centers have been redeveloped into mixed-use centers and/or supportive uses such as housing and employment.

Summary

Highway 72 West is among the most heavily traveled surface corridors in the metro, and has already developed chronic congestion along several segments.  This condition may worsen as anticipated growth works its way north and west from the employment centers on the Arsenal and at Cummings Research Park.  There are several projects planned, including a major corridor improvement of 72 itself, to be undertaken in concert with the MPO.  This will help address traffic; however strategies for mixed land-use and a diverse transportation network should be implemented to help ensure the long-term sustainability of the area.

Adopting more flexible land-use policies and creating more connections within and along the corridor will encourage reinvestment in many of the struggling properties in the sub-area.  By allowing and encouraging older commercial centers to redevelop in a mixed-use format, the economic environment in general can be improved.  As the market improves, aesthetics and public safety will follow.

Actions

  • Widen and manage access along Highway 72 West. Prioritize development of a parallel street network to reduce reliance on 72 for local trips.
  • Update zoning at key nodes to allow for higher-density mixed use redevelopment of under-performing commercial properties.
  • Establish a greenway connection between the Village of Providence and Cummings Research Park. There are physical and practical challenges with making the connection, but it should be prioritized as a key link between a rapidly growing residential hub and a key employment center.