HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Monday, Cecil Ashburn Drive closes for construction.
Officials said Cecil Ashburn Drive is currently handling 17,000 trips per day and they say it has reached its maximum capacity. The road will be widened, a project that has been in the works since 2014. Leaders identified it as part of “Restore Our Roads” and the full project will take 18 months. The complete road closure is only expected to last for 10 months of that time.
City engineers say at 5 a.m. Monday, January 7, crews will shut down Cecil Ashburn Drive from Old Big Cove Road to just east of Avalon Drive.
That means all lanes in that area will be completely closed to traffic. Leaders have said people who live on Donegal (and the one house on Avalon Drive) will be able to get in and out, as usual. But no one can go “over the mountain.”
The project spans 3.4 miles over the mountain between Big Cove and Jones Valley. Crews will be four-laning Cecil Ashburn from Old Big Cove Road to Donegal, adding 8-foot shoulders, improving safety with skid-resistant pavement, and improving the Land Trust parking lot among other things.
How long will it take?
The road is not expected to reopen until November 2019 at the earliest. Leaders said they included incentives in the contract with the contractor. The contractor can earn up to $2 million in incentives ($30,000 a day, for each day work is ahead of schedule or meets the 10-month timeline). Conversely, the contractor could also be penalized $30,000 per day (up to $2M) for each day work is behind schedule.
Huntsville planners said the project will be complete by May 2020.
What alternate route should I use?
The City of Huntsville identified some other connectors that you can use while Cecil Ashburn is closed:
- US 431/Governor’s Drive via Governor’s Drive
- US Highway 72 via Eastern Bypass/Rock Cut Road
- South Memorial Parkway/US 231 via Hobbs Island Road
As a result of the closure, there will be several impacts across Huntsville. Take a look at our previous reporting at the links below:
- Local business owners are worried there will be fewer customers.
- Huntsville City Schools students and parents will face longer drives to school.
- One church leader is worried the closure could affect his church attendance.
- Blevins Gap Trailhead will be closed for the duration of the project.
How the City of Huntsville and HEMSI have prepared:
- The city added technology to turn lights green when first responders are on the way to an emergency.
- The city lengthened the green light times on Governors Drive.
- HEMSI re-positioned their resources in the area.
- The city is encouraging drivers to carpool during the construction.
Other Things to Note
The city said traffic laws will be “strictly enforced” by Huntsville Police. You’re asked to expect delays. It would be helpful to leave home earlier than usual during peak morning hours, and leave extra time for your commute during peak evening travel hours.
Police said if you are in an accident in the areas most heavily affected by the detoured traffic, and no one is injured, you should move all vehicles to the shoulder if it is safe to do so. That can help with traffic flow during those peak times.
You are encouraged to participate in ride-sharing. Huntsville has many options at this link.
More information from the City of Huntsville can be found here.