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Students and school district officials prepare for more traffic during Cecil Ashburn closure

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala - The Cecil Ashburn closure in Huntsville begins Monday morning. Are you ready?

That closure is the same day kids go back to school from winter break, which means there are going to be a lot of changes rolling out for their commute.

A lot of people use Governors Drive. Depending on which area you're talking about, 28,000 to 33,000 drivers use the road every day. After the closure, that number could be going up quite a bit. Huntsville City Schools district officials have plans in place to prepare for that.

District officials say the Cecil Ashburn closure has been on their radar for months. Last year the district decided to change the high school start time to 8:30.

"The Cecil Ashburn project was one of the major considerations in making that adjustment," communications director, Keith Ward, said.

When Cecil Ashburn Drive closes, 17,000 drivers will have to find an alternate route. Governors Drive is going to have a lot more traffic.

Ward says district officials have been working to get a word of advice out to parents for Monday morning.

"Accommodate maybe a little extra drive time to and from school," he said.

He says the district will not be adjusting their tardy and absence policy due to traffic on Governors Drive.

"The same policies and procedures that we have in place will be in effect," he said.

The district has 160 bus routes and there are five that use Governors Drive and Highway 431. He says the two schools that will be most impacted are Huntsville High School and Hampton Middle School.

"They'll be monitoring in real time the pickup and drop off points so that if need be they can make tweaks and adjustments to the bus route to accommodate," he said.

So far, no changes have been made to those bus routes. That means pick up times will be the same Monday morning. Ward says the district reviews the routes every Wednesday, so if they decide they need to alter the routes, they won't do till after that day. He says they will notify parents before they make those changes.

Hampton Cove Family Prepares for Closure:

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Paige Hall is a Huntsville High School senior who lives in Hampton Cove. She's behind the wheel a lot. She carpools to school with her little brother and other kids from her neighborhood.

"I take Governors and it takes about 25 to 30 minutes to get to school," she said.

Her family thinks that drive is about to get a lot longer.

"It's going to take almost twice as long to get to school and back so that's the bad part about it," Paige's brother and Huntsville High School freshman, Jackson Hall said.

Their mom isn't thrilled either.

"I hate that they have to spend probably close to an hour," she said. "You know, it's kind of inconceivable that Huntsville City Schools has a school zoned where on a good day it takes 20 minutes to get to school, on a normal day it takes about 30 minutes, and now it could take up to an hour to get to high school."

As a mom, she says it's always hard to watch the kids head out the door and it's going to be a little more difficult knowing they'll be sitting in so much traffic.

"You know when it rains, I do worry and they don't know this, but I track them on my phone sometimes when it rains just to make sure that they got to Huntsville High because there are so many accidents over Governors," she said.

So Monday morning this family will be prepared for the long commute. It means waking up earlier and hitting the road sooner.

"It's going to be nice when it opens," Jackson Hall said.

And the family is trying to stay positive while the road is closed for the next ten months.

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