HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Cecil Ashburn Drive opened two lanes to drivers less than a month ago, on October 18, and local businesses and law enforcement say it’s making a big difference all around the city.
The roadway closed completely for construction at the beginning of the year. The ultimate plan is to widen the road to four lanes to better suit traffic and the growing population.
The closing greatly affected businesses on both sides of the roadway.
“When Cecil Ashburn shut down, we definitely saw a lack in business. With everyone going different directions, we didn’t see the traffic flow we usually did," said Anaheim Chili's head cook Steven Mink.
Two lanes opened October 18, making the road accessible again while the other two lanes are still being built. Business owners say they noticed a difference immediately.
"We saw it the day that Cecil Ashburn opened, we’ve seen it every day since Cecil Ashburn opened and we love it," Mink said. "We love everybody coming out.”
Police say they saw another immediate difference that doesn’t have to do with Cecil Ashburn Drive itself. Detour routes were where police saw the most issues while the road was closed.
“Once the road did open, it was pretty evident that we weren’t having to be watchful of the road itself but the detour routes were showing a great impact on the lessening of the volume of traffic," said Lt. Johnson with the Huntsville Police Department.
Police said the number of accidents on Cecil Ashburn Drive since it opened is in the single digits and there have been no injuries. Most of those accidents had to do with distracted driving or following too closely. The temporary speed limit will stay 35 miles per hour till all four lanes are open next spring.