If you follow Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle at all, you know his spiel on Huntsville’s 18-minute commute.
Now, Battle sticks to the script, with some elaboration, “If we compare our commute to what they have in Washington DC in the beltway and Atlanta and some other areas, where they have an hour commute to and an hour commute back, we can give you back an hour-and-a-half of your life every day.”
So, you can imagine when traffic started building up outside Redstone Arsenal with recent gate changes, they noticed in the mayor’s office.
After all, if we go from an 18-minute commute to just 24 minutes, that’s a 33% increase. Make that number an even 30 minutes, and we’re talking 66% worse than we started. So there’s not a lot of room for error when you’re counting on that commute time to market to potential employers looking to move here.
But Battle notes this traffic eludes his control, “We can get you to the gate of Redstone Arsenal and back home in 18 minutes. From the gate on, that’s the Arsenal’s responsibility.”
Still, the city’s gears started churning.
Battle points out, “We’ve offered to put additional officers out there to work with them. We’ve thrown out the idea of safety patrol people working the gates, but there are some legal ramifications that the attorneys on the Arsenal have as to who can actually man those gates and who can’t.”
However, Battle traveled this proverbial road before.
When the state wouldn’t fund enough road projects for the city, he urged the city council to raise sales taxes and pick up the tab. So if the city takes on state responsibilities, couldn’t they take on this federal one too and just fund another gate?
Battle says, “The attorneys with the Arsenal have not come up with anything.”
So where should you look for a solution?
“It’s Washington,” says Battle, “As we get emails, we send them up to our congressman and let them know that this is an issue that’s hitting them.”
We reached out to the offices of the three members of congress that represent this area.
From Representative Mo Brooks’s office, we didn’t hear back before hitting the air. An official with the office of Senator Jeff Sessions just asked if we’d spoken to Mayor Battle, but did not provide any additional information. A spokesperson for Senator Richard Shelby says they have received only one phone call.
UPDATE: We talked with Congressman Brooks’s office. A spokesperson says they have received numerous complaints about the situation and have taken multiple steps to express displeasure and create a solution. Stay tuned to WHNT News 19 for more information.
It would seem for now we’re a long way away from drumming up pressure from Washington.
However, if you wish to add to that pressure and make a call about the Redstone Arsenal traffic yourself, you can reach these members of congress at the following numbers:
U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-District 5)
(202) 225-4801 – Washington office
(256) 551-0190 – Huntsville office
(256) 355-9400 – Decatur office
(256)-718-5155 – Shoals office
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
(202) 224-4124 – Washington office
(256) 533-0979 – Huntsville office
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL)
(202) 224-5744 – Washington office
(256) 772-0460 – Huntsville office