Former Huntsville mayor recalls Cecil Ashburn Drive construction

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala.- People who live in Hampton Cove and Owens Cross Roads are already making other plans for getting to Huntsville on Monday morning once Cecil Ashburn Drive shuts down.

Huntsville’s former mayor Steve Hettinger was one of the project’s champions nearly 30 years ago.

“I can’t remember if it was a 3-2 or a 4-1. But I think it was probably a 3-2 vote,” Hettinger stated.

There wasn’t unanimous support from city leaders and even criticism for Steve Hettinger when he brought up building what’s now Cecil Ashburn Drive during his first term.

“You’re building a road to nowhere,” Hettinger remembered. “The only thing that was going to be out there at that time was a golf course.”

The original estimate in the early ’90s was around $4 million. It took nearly ten years, but the state of Alabama finished the road for close to $11 million.

“We knew that Huntsville had to be able to expand in different directions,” Hettinger added.

The well-traveled route now handles thousands of cars and trucks a day. Starting Monday, the 3.5 mile stretch will shut down as workers begin expanding the road to four lanes.

“Gosh, I wish we’d said 30 years ago, ‘Let’s build it four lanes instead of two lanes,'” Hettinger explained. “It wasn’t practical at that time.”

Commuters are already making alternate plans, which they admit will mean waking up earlier and adding a few more minutes each way.

Construction on the new road is expected to be finished in May of next year.