HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Orange barrels now line South Memorial Parkway, and that's a sign that the long-awaited overpass project has begun.
But Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle also wants commuters to know that traffic will be minimally impacted.
He is encouraging patrons to continue to frequent the area.
Two lanes will be open in each direction for the entire project. The overpasses ensure Huntsville won't overshoot its infrastructure as it grows.
"We have new people coming in all the time and we have to make sure that as people come in, we have a road system to accommodate it," said Mayor Battle.
They say you can make all the movements you used to take, nothing restricted, it's just different.
"We were able to get with the state and be able to make an agreement that would finish the Parkway from Weatherly to Mastin Lake," said Battle. "That will finish all of that so internally we could get around downtown."
"The overpasses south of this location were built first," said city engineer Kathy Martin. "You have overpasses north of here and south of here so this gap was inevitable."
For both phases, joint venture contractors Reed Contracting and Miller & Miller may receive up to $2.5 million incentives if they finish sooner.
"The construction firm has a reason to work 24 hours a day and they have reason to push through this project as quickly as possible," said Battle.
Impact on south Huntsville Businesses
"The concern has always been since day one, how to quickly finish this project and minimize any impact to businesses in the area," said Martin.
"Your short-term is a little bit of pain," said Mayor Battle. "I was in the restaurant business when I first moved here in 1980. We went through two constructions, the constructions were not good."
"The city been working with us to reassure us that they're going to do everything they can to help the traffic flow and make sure everything stays as normal as possible," said Justin Sparks, manager of Blue Plate cafe on the South Parkway. The location opened in June.
"We want to help promote some of these retailers as they go through this construction," said Mayor Battle. "There's going be some inconvenience with construction but beyond that inconvenience, people will be able to get to their business."
The new service roads and Martin Road bridge are scheduled for completion in December 2017.
The overpasses at Lily Flagg and Byrd Spring are expected to open in June 2019.