Huntsville business owners, drivers excited for partial Cecil Ashburn Drive reopening

Nearly ten months after the road was closed for an expansion, two lanes are open as crews finish the rest of the work.

Posted: Oct 18, 2019 6:50 PM
Updated: Oct 19, 2019 10:24 AM

Cecil Ashburn Drive is open and drivers are glad to get back to their old commute. Nearly ten months after the road was closed for an expansion, two lanes are open as crews finish the rest of the work.

Todd Wright said he has a long commute to get to his business, Wright Hearing Center, in Jones Valley. The last ten months with Cecil Ashburn being closed have made it even worse.

"I was tickled. I was having to come up here and I was like, yay, I won’t have to drive around the world to get here," he said. "I drive up from Gadsden, and typically, it’s about an hour (and) 15 minute drive, and it takes about two hours the way we had to go."

The project isn't done just yet. There are about seven more months left. The city of Huntsville said construction crews are still working to finish installing utilities and drainage on the road.

Crews also have to finish paving along the road and work on slope stabilization. Wright said he's amazed at how much work crews have already done, and hopes all four lanes might also be opened soon.

"It looks good. I'm amazed they got that much work done that fast," he said.

Cecil Ashburn is filled with drivers who aren't wasting anytime using it to get to Hampton Cove and Jones Valley. Businesses in Jones Valley said they are ready for their customers to return.

Wright said he was amazed at the traffic back in Jones Valley on the first day of Cecil Ashburn partially reopening nearly ten months after it was closed.

"A lot of traffic going over the mountain when I came over just a few minutes ago," he said.

Parking lots in Jones Valley were also once again packed for lunch.

"That was about twice as much as we’ve done on a Friday in months. Now, partially, it was cold today, too, so it was hard to tell," said Scott Harriman, the owner of Anaheim Chili.

Both business owners said since the road closure, it's been tough.

"It's been a little rough. There are definitely certain times we've seen a drop off in business," Harriman said.

Harriman said he hopes to see some of his customers come back, but doesn't have any plans to try out the new road anytime soon.

“I probably will eventually, yeah. I’m in no hurry. I got things to do," he said.

WAAY 31 saw many Huntsville police officers out there monitoring speeds. The entire project is expected to be complete in May.

Permanent striping along the road, new signs and special paving that should help cars not skid in the rain will also be installed in the spring before it completely reopens.

Crews are also working on Sutton Road and Old Big Cove Road. Sutton Road will have five lanes when the work is complete, and Old Big Cove Road will have two left turns for drivers headed west.

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