Huntsville Mayor: City Blocked From Helping Arsenal With Gates, Citizens Can Make A Difference

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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


    • Geoff

      I don’t really see anyone complaining (correct grammar). Just an article explaining what’s going on and that the city’s hands are tied to try to help. I think the real issue is that people are TRYING to get to work, Juan, and the arsenal isn’t accepting help..

    • Jerry Self

      What these money saving grubbs, don’t get, is who will be in the lawsuit when emergency personnel can not get to an accident on the south end of the base. We have lost friends in problems down there, now, we can’t even get police or fire or ambulance workers in there! So someone can save a buck! Put military back on the gates, no shortage there, and quit playing politics with peoples lives. Even the mayor is telling us to contact our politicians! I know who will be on the paper work if any of my family gets hung up in this political wheel!

  • steve

    the problem lies with the leadership at the Garrison. These generals and ppl in charge are from diff parts of the Country and used to having commutes and Gate delays. They don’t see it as a problem for us.

  • Jim

    It is true, considering average commutes you have in other cities in Hutnsville even a 30 minute delay is pretty minimal. Atlanta for example most people have about a 1 hour commute to work and 2 hour home. We have nothing nearly as bad as that so I can understand why some might think that there is actually not a bad problem. However.I clearly can see the frustration of having your commute time doubled by the closing of a gate etc. I have seen people talking about how much wasted time they have and what it costs the govt. Well actually it doesnt cost them anything unless you care coming in late. If your commute is 30 minutes or even an hour, that doesnt excuse you from coming in late. You just leave out earlier to make it ontime to work. I want a short commute too but on average it takes about 15 minutes to go anywhere in Huntsville.

  • CKH

    A longer “DC type commute” would be okay if we had DC amenities. Here there are many fewer opportunities for entertainment (Nationals, Capitals, Redskins) or shopping (not even a Crate & Barrel here?) or dining. Give us the big city amenities and we will handle the big city commute.

  • Jimmy

    There is a reason I live here and not in Atlanta, Chicago or Washington. I can’t stand being stuck in traffic for 2+ hours

    • Jim

      Yes, Huntsville does afford us a much better commute..Sure would be nice to have rail going onto post, you could park outside, ride in, get off at your area, then catch rail back out.. My Great Grandfather worked on Post in the 1940’s in the munitions factories there and rode a train onto post from the South Parkway area near Green Cove from Redstone Park Area every day. Too bad we didnt have that line still going…

  • Lee

    Garrison commander at Redstone previously stated that new gate changes should be considered permanent. It’s a result of force reductions on military facilities by the dept of the Army. Friday is only better (and will be each week) due to a stacked work week allowing many to be off work each Friday.

    • Wake Up

      You need to ask your tea party representative why they want to fund the government at or below the “sequestration” funding levels. The reduction is the result of their budget cuts. Some Republicans, and all Democrats, wanted to fund at a higher level than sequestration levels. It is easy to blame Obama around here, but it is the tea party funding levels that are the cause!

  • Sharron

    That’s why they have staggered hours of duty. If you go to work at 6:00 a.m., there is much less traffic at the gate.

  • Dave

    The Mayor and the HPD Chief should inform the Garrison Commander at the Arsenal that he is creating a public safety hazard, and give him 5 working days to correct a problem that he has put in place. Why did he put this burden in place and create such a hardship on the workers and the citizens one might ask, well that is simple. He is trying to get funding for other projects on the Arsenal. Such as redoing the main gate again. Regardless the bottom line is that the actions by the Arsenal (Garrison)commander is putting school children at risk, fix it.

    • Alowishus Abercrombie

      The Garrison didn’t just decide to do this on a whim. It was a mandated 40% reduction in force. Seems they didn’t have much choice other than to close Gate 8.

  • JR

    How does the ambulance get on post at 0730 to treat the stressed out civilian that got to work at 0630 as suggested? How much longer will it take? Did you just kill that worker by the delayed ambulance response. May have to send Medflight to the scene, rather than wait on HEMSI arrival. It’s not HEMSI’s fault. It’s the Garrison Commander’s responsibility. How does that rest on your conscience, if you even have one COL?

  • Natalie Wellman

    It is not the Arsenal commander that created this problem , it is our supposed Commander in Chief and congress that created this problem by cutting funding to the military. they never have to wait in lines to get anywhere so they do not think before they act. the Arsenal commander is doing the best he can under the circumstances. I can remember a day when you did not have to have guards at each entrance, but the times have changed.

    • Wake Up

      GB, you are correct. Those that cut the funding said it was not right to pass on unnecessary debt to our Grandchildren. It sounds like many that voted Republican (I say this because the percentage voting Republican in this area is very high) now want to pass on more debt to our Grandchildren if it means they do not have to wait in line so long!! Be careful what you vote for — you might (did) get it!

  • Kile

    Oh be quiet, you bunch of babies. So you have to leave a little earlier. So your arrival time may be less predictable. Adjust fire, and carry on. You all act like someone is supposed to carry you across the threshold on a gilded chariot – heaven forbid you have to adjust your own schedule in order to get a paycheck that puts a roof over your miserable heads.

  • Nikki

    This has nothing to do with finding solutions, but rather with political posturing. There are ways they could make the gate traffic issues better, but alleviating some of the headache doesn’t create the “pot stir” they are going for. They don’t want to fix it without getting something in return. They need maximum inconvenience to prove a point. This is all about seeing how mad you can make people so they call Washington to complain.

  • Bill J

    The Army is spending millions on a road widening project on Zeirt road to improve traffic flow into the Arsenal and then they take a penny saving measure to restrict traffic, not just into the arsenal but for us who have to commute from Madison into Huntsville. Does this make sense?

    Christie has his Bridge-gate scandal and now we have a Gate-gate scandal. Is this more punishment for Red states by the Obama administration?

  • Bill

    If it bothers everyone so much….start car pooling! 95%plus of the cars that come in the gates are caring only one person. If you don’t like the car pooling idea, then leave earlier for work!
    Welcome to the world of reduced dollars for military operations. Just remember ALL this complaining when it’s time to VOTE.

  • RetiredMSG

    Solution is simple. Discipline. Mandate all organizations on Arsenal stagger arrivals and departures: 33% 0700, 33% 0730, 33% 0800 based on gate used – stick to it and enforce it.

  • GoGoGoBigO

    Hey, “Wake Up,” you need to wake up! So, tell us, just WHO issued the mandate, “a mandated 40% reduction in force,” per Allowishus Abercrombie? Not the Tea Party, and not the Republicans Brooks, Sessions, and Shelby! They all voted against the cut-the-Army and cut-the-veterans appropriations deal that the President and the Senate Majority Democrats forced onto the Republicans and the American people. Take a look at the President’s budget plan that he just signed into law a few days ago. It cuts National Defense sharply this year, and next year again by another $50+ Billion$. The Sequestration, remember, was the President’s own idea forced onto the House Republicans with the threat of shutting down the govt. if they wouldn’t give him a $2,400 Billion$ spending increase. It was his, not their, insistence that the sequestration should cut Defense and the Arsenal more deeply than the rest of the govt., to let him pump more money into his incompetent bureaucracy that created Obamacare’s website, the bailout of the AFL-CIO unions at Chrysler Motors and General Motors, Solyndra, building electric cars in Finland (Fiskar) instead of in Detroit, etc., and his, that mandated the cancellation of millions of Americans’ medical insurance so he could use threats from the IRS to force those workers to go on higher-cost Obamacare. The President shut down the govt last Fall to get his borrowing limit raised, and he threatened to shut down the govt again if the House Republicans didn’t accept his decision to keep on cutting our national Defense budget and ripping $50,000,000,000.00 out of our mothers’ and grandmothers’ Medicare treatments this year again, while borrowing hundreds of Billion$ from the Federal Reserve Bank and from the veterans’ and the federal employees’ benefits funds for spending with his cronies and his campaign contributors, and continuing every year for the foreseeable future. Just remember, he says he is focused like a laser beam on creating good, middle-class jobs, and he says he will not rest until every American willing to work has a good middle-class job! And he has declared that he will legalize anywhere from 11 millions to 30 millions more willing workers from North and Central America, and their aged relatives and children, to make that happen!! Just couldn’t squeeze enough out of the stimulus to hire the guards to keep the gates open on the Arsenal in Alabama!

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