HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Thursday morning, a group of Madison County and Huntsville city leaders gathered at the intersection of Highway 72 East and Moores Mill Road to beg the state not to delay a scheduled improvement project there.
They insist pushing it back more than 10 years will stall economic development and growth in the area.
Their arguments came moments before the sounds of an emergency siren.
Just before eight o'clock, a pediatric ambulance on a morning emergency run got slowed down by traffic stacked up at the intersection.
"It's a problem that has to be solved and it's going to take a partnership to solve it," said Mayor Tommy Battle of Huntsville.
Battle and others, who'd been excited about a new overpass set to get underway next year to fix the problem, begged the Department of Transportation not to delay the project until the year 2026.
"As you can see, traffic is backed up as far as you can see," said Madison County Commissioner Roger Jones. "Imagine what it will be like in 10 years. This traffic gridlock is a waste of money, waste of time. we have got to get this funded."
A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation says officials pushed back that project and others due to the limited amount of money coming in from the federal government: $150-million a year for the next ten years.
DOT Spokeswoman Rebecca Leigh White said the department director chose to fund projects already underway, those likely to be completed without running out of money, and to fix wear and tear on existing roadways.
Battle insists the project is necessary to allow growth and development in an area expecting to see growth by 100,000 people over the next ten years.
"All of these people back here have worked very hard to make sure that we have road plans in place to take care of us for the next 20, 30 years," said Battle. "And all of a sudden, every one of those road plans were moved back 5 years, 10 years, 15 years.. it throws your whole plan awry. And it makes it where you cannot handle being able to grow in the next 10 or 15 or 20 years."