New I-565 interchange is big win for Town Madison shopping complex

Town Madison site

Looking east, this aerial photograph shows the site for Town Madison, a commercial and retail development taking shape south of Interstate 565 near Zeirdt Road. State and federal highway officials have approved a new I-565 exit at the development site. (Marty Sellers |

Lee Roop | By Lee Roop | The Huntsville Times
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on September 04, 2015 at 10:11 AM, updated September 04, 2015 at 1:39 PM

The Cool Springs reference – used last week by Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong – refers to the I-65 exit south of Nashville that is home to a Galleria and dozens of satellite retailers including big box stores not now in North Alabama.

Locally, Strong and city of Madison officials hope the new exit lures “next level” stores to Town Madison, a 1.5-million-square-foot shopping and commercial center being developed in Madison near the corner of Zierdt Road and I-565. Developers have said they are negotiating with 10 big box stores, and Madison officials say they expect store announcements to begin fairly soon.

I-565 exchange at Town Madison.JPGThis drawing from the Alabama Highway Department released Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, shows the basic design of a traffic exchange planned on Interstate 565 west of Huntsville for the new Town Madison development. (State Highway Department) 

Strong, Madison Mayor Troy Trulock and other officials announced state and federal approval for the new interchange Aug. 28. The state highway department said Thursday it will host a public meeting to show preliminary design maps and discuss the plan at Madison City Hall, 100 Hughes Road, on Oct. 1 at 4:30 p.m.

“This will be tremendous for the city of Madison,” Trulock said Thursday. Trulock said Madison will have gone in three years from one I-565 exit at Wall-Triana Highway to three when the new interchange opens. A second Madison exit opened at County Line Road earlier this year.

Construction on the interchange will begin early next year, and the first phase will be completed in 2017, Strong said. That first phase includes eastbound and westbound access to the development, state highway officials said Friday. A later phase includes I-565 access to an extended Hughes Road.

Depending on how Town Madison develops, the project could be a major win for Madison in ongoing competition for new retail development that provides shopping for residents and funds for local government. Huntsville, Madison and Madison County school systems share some sales tax revenue from all commercial development, and Strong touts that as the win-win part of new development his office tries to facilitate anywhere in the county. But some city sales taxes flow directly to the local government where the development happens, and that has led to competition.

In 2014, developer Louis Breland lost what he hoped would be a major anchor for Town Center when outdoor supplier Cabela’s located its first Alabama store on a site about a mile to the east in Huntsville near Bridge Street Town Centre. Cabela’s will be worth more than $1 million a year in sales taxes to Huntsville, officials estimate. However, the close proximity of Bridge Street and Town Center could also boost both cities if the area becomes regional “destination” shopping.

Madison tried to get the I-565 interchange approved in 2007, but didn’t have the traffic numbers justify it to state and federal highway administrators. Another look last year showed western traffic had grown, and supporters were also able to stress the benefits of a new exit to funnel some Redstone Arsenal traffic away from Gate 9 on Research Park Boulevard. Westbound arsenal traffic will now be able to exit at the new interchange and take Zierdt Road to Gate 7.

(Updated Sept. 4 at 11 a.m. to include an official State Highway Department map of the planned interchange)