HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The Cecil Ashburn construction project is moving right on schedule according to a spokesperson for the City of Huntsville. That's good news for thousands of drivers who took that road every day, but they're not the only ones who to see it back open ASAP. A small church is praying crews don't pump the brakes on the project.
It's been a long four months for The Southeast Church of the Nazarene. The small Jones Valley church has a lot of members who live right on the other side of the mountain in Hampton Cove and Old Big Cove. Their drive to church used to be about 10 minutes.
"It's on the average about 25 minutes added to their commute," Pastor Byron Brown said.
While they'd like to see everyone on Sunday, Pastor Brown says there's been a drop in attendance by about 15%. The congregation only has about 100 people.
"At first they just chucked it up and said they got to do it, but now it has become more of a heartache and a headache to them to make the drive around, " he said. "A lot of elderly people are just not making it."
Which means there is less money in the donation basket.
"That equals also in contributions which are probably down about 20%, 25%," he said.
That's a big chunk of change. Pastor Brown says that's forcing them to forego remodeling projects and hosting events that could help grow their membership.
"We usually host different activities like a arts and crafts festival in our parking lot," he said.
A spokesperson for the City of Huntsville says construction crews are working 6 to 7 days a week. Clearing and blasting is about 90% complete.
The contractor is more than halfway done with the storm drainage installation and is coordinating with several companies on relocation efforts. AT&T, Comcast, and Huntsville utilities have completed their relocations.
"We're on target for an October 1, reopening of at least two lanes of the road," said Kelly Schrimsher, City of Huntsville director of communications.
Which is good news for Southeast Church of the Nazarene. They pray the project continues to stay on target.
Two lanes of Cecil Ashburn are scheduled to reopen in October. All lanes of traffic are scheduled to reopen in May of 2020.