Map of Greenbrier Parkway area

A bridge over the Norfolk Southern rail line at Greenbrier Parkway is one of many projects to accommodate increased traffic from the Mazda Toyota auto plant under construction in Limestone County. [COURTESY MAP/CITY OF HUNTSVILLE]

A $4.1 million federal grant to the city of Huntsville will help build a bridge to serve the $1.6 billion Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA automotive assembly plant that is being built in Huntsville-annexed Limestone County.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross this week announced the award by the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration, saying the project will provide opportunities for more industrial and commercial development next to the Mazda Toyota site.

The grant will be matched with $4.1 million in local funds, and is expected to help create 320 jobs and generate $128 million in private investment, according to a release.

The funding will pay for a bridge over the Norfolk Southern rail line at Greenbrier Parkway, according to the city of Huntsville. The bridge is needed to accommodate increased commercial vehicle traffic in the area as a result of the plant, according to the Commerce Department.

Limestone County Commissioner Jason Black, who represents District 3, said motorists will be able to travel Greenbrier Parkway safely without having to stop for passing trains.

Toyota plans to build a new, unspecified sport utility vehicle at the 4,000-employee plant, where production is scheduled to begin in 2021. Mazda has said it will produce a new yet-to-be-unveiled SUV there.

“This bridge will help provide Huntsville’s thriving auto manufacturing industry with the critical infrastructure needed to ensure its future success,” Ross said in the release.

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby said in a statement that the grant will continue to boost economic development and improve rail infrastructure in north Alabama.

“Reliable infrastructure is crucial to Alabama’s economic success,” U.S. Sen. Doug Jones said. “Investments like these are critical to Alabama as we continue to grow and attract new businesses.”

Greenbrier Parkway is a five-phase project to build a divided four-lane road connecting Interstate 565 at the Greenbrier exit to Interstate 65 at the Huntsville Brownsferry exit.

All phases are expected to be complete by late 2020, according to the city of Huntsville.

marian.accardi@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2438. Twitter @DD_MAccardi.

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