What’s taking so long with the Martin & Zierdt Road intersection? Here’s an update

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The intersection of Martin Road and Zierdt Road has been a cause for concern for many. After our story aired a few weeks ago updating the progress, many of you reached out, wanting to know why it has taken years to complete this project.

"Not seeing a contractor on site is very frustrating," said Kathy Martin, Director of City Engineering. She said just because you can't see working being done, that doesn't mean work has stopped.

"I think a lot of people don't realize that Zierdt Road is a multi-phased construction project. There's actually four phases of construction," Martin said. The project is on schedule; she said the contractor completed phase three early, but because it was finished early, they were still in the process of collecting right-of-way, and not ready to move forward.

"Right-of-way is always an issue," Martin said. "That's where we are with the majority of the project with the southbound lanes. The right-of-way accusation process is unpredictable to say the least.  There's appraisals, there's review appraisals, there's title work, there are negotiations that go into it, and if you can't come to an agreement you have to go before a judge. So every individual piece of property has a process."

The speed at which that process moves is completely out of their control. And it's one of two problems they're having.

"This project is unique in that it is a multi-jurisdictional project," Martin said. "Two federal agencies, a state agency, and two local municipalities that are all involved in the design and review of this project. It takes a little more time to coordinate with the agencies, and make sure we receive their concurrence and meet all federal regulations as well as local regulations."

They plan to resume work in January and then transition all of the traffic from the southbound lanes to the north-bound lanes by the spring to begin phase four. But before you get excited -- Martin said phase four, which includes the southbound lanes as well as the intersection, will take longer to complete than phase three.

"We essentially have to rebuild them and widen them and add a multi-use path," Martin said. The Martin Road intersection will become a seven-lane intersection in all four directions.

It's expected to take 30 months, which means the entire project would be completed in 2019. "It's a multi-phased funding project and only so much funding can be allocated every year," Martin said. "So that's why it's taking a couple of years and not just going out and spending $50 million," Martin said.