Community wants answers about 2-year Cecil Ashburn Drive construction project

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)-- 3.2 miles of Cecil Ashburn Drive will see construction from Fall 2017 through Fall 2019. It will start at Donegal Drive and end at Taylor Road. It's a two-year ordeal the community is already preparing for.

"It's already a pretty dangerous situation, so I'm very interested in seeing what's going to happen," commented Byron Brown.

Kathy Martin, Director of City Engineering, said teams have been hard at work planning the project since 2014. It involves widening the road to four-lanes, with raised concrete in the center. There will also be an 8-foot paved shoulder on each side.

The public was invited to a meeting to learn more about planned roadway improvements to Cecil Ashburn Drive, in the Hampton Cove Elementary School Cafeteria. Martin said since the design is 60% complete, they want to get feedback from the public. Understanding their concerns is key to doing the project the right way.

"We're going to evaluate it, and incorporate it into the design, what concerns people the most. We want to make sure we address those concerns," she said.

But time is of the essence. The road is one of two major arteries over the mountain, but it's nearly at capacity. 16,000 drivers go over it per day, and that part of the city only continues to grow. Martin said one lane will at least need to close to do the construction that's needed.

"There's only 2 lanes out there," she said, "We're going to have to shut down one of those lanes in order for the contractor to work. So what we anticipate is one lane of traffic. AM peak hours, we'd ask people to head Westbound, and in the PM we would ask them to head Eastbound in one lane."

Douglas Merchant said, "I appreciate the fact that it is being done now rather than later." He said he's willing to see traffic backups from construction, to reap the benefits. "If we get this kind of a benefit out of that road, I'll put up with whatever comes up."

Others, though, worry about their commute times to work.

"I would have to change my commute," said Scott Everton. "I would have to go over Governor's Drive, or Green Mountain Road. Governor's Drive is typically pretty congested, and Green Mountain Road isn't always the safest road to take."

Byron Brown said he'd be glad to see the work done, but he hopes it doesn't affect his congregation. He's pastor of Southeast Church of the Nazarene, which is at the base of the mountain on the Jones Valley side.

"It could present a challenge to our people coming from Hampton Cove," he said.

People were invited to leave comments, along with their contact information. Comments became part of the official project record.

CECIL ASHBURN WIDENING PROJECT 65-14-RD07 – FAST FACTS:

· Project Length is Approximately 3.2 miles from Donegal Drive to Taylor Road
· 4 lanes with center concrete raised island and 8-foot paved shoulders on each side
· Most of widening will occur on the north side of the existing roadway
· 5 lanes between Old Big Cove and Taylor Road.
· Construction anticipated for Fall 2017 - Fall 2019