HUNTSVILLE, Ala - Beginning Monday, January 7, a 3.4 mile stretch of Cecil Ashburn Drive is closing to traffic for 10 months. The closure will begin at Old Big Cove Road and end near the Avalon intersection in Jones Valley. 17,000 cars travel over the mountain every day. The city is suggesting three alternate routes for people to take, one of them is Governors Drive.
People from Huntsville would probably not describe Governors Drive as the road less traveled.
"On Governors and Monte Sano, it's about 28,000 vehicles per day and when you get to the hospital area at Whitesburg, it's about 33,000 people per day," Huntsville Traffic Improvements Project Manager, Nicholas Nene said.
Rainy weather or an accident can cause traffic to back up. When the Cecil Ashburn closes, city officials expect a large portion of those vehicles will re-route to Governors Drive.
Nene says the city has a plan to accommodate all those extra drivers. From the intersection of Old Big Cove Road all the way past Harvard Road, every single traffic signal will be adjusted to have longer green lights for vehicles traveling on Governors Drive.
"It'll be increased by 25% to 33% depending on what the cycle length is for that intersection. What we are hoping to do is increase the number of vehicles going through the green light at each and every intersection so it doesn't queue up," Nene explained.
What does a 25% to 33% longer green light look like? For example, the light on Governors and California is green for 75 seconds during morning rush hour traffic.
"We're going to increase that to about 100 to 105 seconds," Nene said.
Which means less time pumping the breaks and hopefully a faster commute for the thousands of drivers that will be hitting this street during the Cecil Ashburn closure.
Check here for a list and map of alternate routes.
The City of Huntsville also has resources for residents on their website.
Huntsville Police Prepare for closure:
17,000 drivers will have to find an alternate route when a 3.4 mile stretch of Cecil Ashburn closes Monday morning. Huntsville city officials are asking people to use one of three alternate routes.
Thousands of extra vehicles will be hitting the streets in these areas and Huntsville police are preparing for increased traffic.
"Some of the things we've been doing is working with the commander of the Special Operations Division and preparing the traffic division for potential traffic issues at of course rush hour and different times of the day," Lt. Michael Johnson said.
During the morning, lunch, and evening rush hour, there will be anywhere from 10 to 12 extra officers staged in key areas.
Those areas are:
- Governors Drive from California Street to US HWY 431/Sutton Rd.
- Hobbs Island Road in the city limits
- Eastern Bypass east to the city limits
- Memorial Parkway from Hobbs Island to I-565
They won't just be enforcing the speed limit, but also helping with traffic flow, and reporting back to the city to see if there are ways to improve traffic.
Huntsville Police want to remind people to get familiar with the speed limits along these alternate routes and if drivers get into a fender bender, pull off to the shoulder of the road to help traffic continue to move.