Talking roads: Recent Huntsville City Council winners share thoughts on growth

Talking roads: Recent Huntsville City Council winners share thoughts on growth

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - The quality and size of Huntsville’s roads were a dominant issue in this summer’s City Council races.

All three victors from June’s municipal election (incumbents Bill Kling and Jennie Robinson, newcomer Frances Akridge) ran on improving the Rocket City’s roads.

The new City Council will meet for the first time on Thursday, Nov. 15, so WAFF 48 News reached out to the former candidates about their campaign promises.

Kling had multiple ideas, but sidewalk construction on Williams Avenue stood out.

The city is reducing the number of lanes to accommodate the sidewalk and slow traffic downtown, as part of the City Centre construction.

“I think with all the growth that’s taken place downtown, that it’s a bad project. I’d like to stop the project and not spend money on it,” Kling said.

The project is one of 15 roadwork zones the city of Huntsville currently lists on its website.

Several of those projects involve joint city and state funding for state roads. Kling said he did not want Huntsville tax dollars going toward state projects.

He said the city’s legislative delegation in Montgomery should fight for more money from the state.

“We’re generating tax money for the state and we should get our share and perhaps even a little bit more from the state, as far as road money coming back to us," he said.

Kling also voiced support for a belt-line road around the city and an expansion of Governors Drive.

One of the biggest moves on Huntsville road quality since the June election came in September, when Kling supported Councilman Devyn Keith’s motion to move more than $729,000 from road resurfacing toward a one-time bonus for city retirees.

Kling said the Council replenished those funds with a motion from Robinson. Council minutes from October state any surplus funds remaining after the city’s fiscal year 2018 audit will be moved to the resurfacing fund, up to $750,000.

How much money will be returned to resurfacing is unclear.

Robinson, who was not present for Keith’s motion, called the move “bad policy.”

“It never should have been taken out to give a one time bonus. We have so many roads that need to be paved, so many people affected by that,” she said.

Despite the disagreement on the use of road resurfacing funds, Robinson said she shares Kling’s vision for a belt-line around Huntsville.

She said part of that belt-line could include a connector between Haysland Road and Redstone Arsenal.

Haysland road is currently under expansion and Robinson said it will help make room for Huntsville’s growing population.

“It will really open up that west side of the parkway, there’s county land over there that can be annexed,” she said.

WAFF 48 News reached out Akridge but did not get a response.

The City Council is meeting at 6 p.m Thursday.

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