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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The City of Huntsville has received a $20 million grant for improving pedestrian access to downtown and providing an economic boost to low-income communities.

City officials say the pedestrian access and redevelopment corridor (PARC) project has been on their wishlist for over a decade, but budget shortfalls have kept the project on hold.

The funding will be provided by a Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant, administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“Huntsville welcomes the RAISE grant, which will allow us to take property out of flood zones, enhance connectivity and improve our transportation grid along Pinhook Creek,” Mayor Tommy Battle said in a statement. “We appreciate our partnership with the federal government and this grant, which will help us take Huntsville to the next level.”

The main goal of PARC is connection. The project aims to connect downtown with the Mill Creek and Lowe Mill communities through greenways and a suspended pedestrian bridge. These areas are currently separated by two major roadways.

PARC will also include enhancements along Pinhook Creek to reduce flooding and improve the floodplain. They plan to add new public recreation amenities and also connect multiple neighborhoods.

Pedestrian access and redevelopment corridor, Pinhook Creek and Huntsville Spring Branch

“This project has been a continuous goal for the City since 2006,” said Shane Davis, Huntsville’s Director of Urban & Economic Development in a statement. “The completion of the project will provide a safe multimodal hub for pedestrian and bicycle connectivity for multiple areas of Huntsville as well as new downtown recreation opportunities. Over time, the City will use this project to connect north and south Huntsville, Five Points, Lowe Mill, John Hunt Park and even Research Park with alternate modes of mobility.”

City officials are hopeful PARC will also boost the surrounding low-income communities by providing access to health care and employment opportunities to about 5,000 people who live near the project area.