A major roadway connecting Jones Valley and Hampton Cove in Huntsville will soon be closed.
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle announced on Monday, Cecil Ashburn will close for road widening in 2019.
The City's Director of Engineering, Kathy Martin, told WAAY 31 the city will start bidding the project in January of 2019. It's expected to cost between $15-$20 million dollars to widen the road. The Alabama Department of Transportation has agreed to fund 50% percent of the project, according to the City. A median will be added to the new four-lane road to help make the road safer. There is also plans to add a grate system to the road to help move water off the roadway to prevent flooding, according to Martin.
Mayor Battle said the road is expected to be closed for 12 to 14 months. However, the City plans on offering the contractor on the project incentives to finish the road in 10 to 11 months. This is a much shorter timeline than the City previously announced for the project. In May, the City announced it rejected a bid to keep the road partially open during construction. The City told us closing down the road completely during construction will save about $10 million dollars.
People who live in the area expressed their concerns about being forced to take alternate routes during construction, however, understand it's part of living in a growing city.
"You have to do what you have to do in a city that's growing as quickly as Huntsville is," Janet Martin who lives in the area said.
The City of Huntsville has also been working with public safety responders to ensure a smooth and safe commute for the increased traffic on Governors Drive and Highway 72 east. Monday, Huntsville Fire and Rescue Chief Mac McFarlen that he is working with Huntsville Police, HEMSI, and the Traffic Engineering Department to formulate a plan for emergency response for the time period that Cecil Ashburn will be closed. According to McFarlen, the plan includes evaluating alternative routes, resource positioning for peak periods, mutual aid response, and traffic light preemption.
17,000 cars travel Cecil Ashburn daily, which connects the Hampton Cove area with Jones Valley. This becomes a major inconvenience to Hampton Cove area residents that commute to Redstone Arsenal via Cecil Ashburn and push traffic onto other already crowded streets.
Governor's Drive/Hwy 431 into downtown is already considered "at capacity" on the west side. On the east side of Cecil Ashburn, Whitesburg, Airport Road, and Memorial Parkway/Hwy 231 will see increased traffic in both directions.