The city of Huntsville issued this news Friday morning. Stay with WAAY 31 on air and WAAYTV.com online for updates:
Two-way traffic on Cecil Ashburn Drive will reopen to the public beginning at 10 a.m. today, marking the completion of Phase I of the $17.9 million road improvement project.
The overall project includes four-lanes of divided highway and is slated to be complete within six to eight months in time for a Spring 2020 opening.
Hanceville, Alabama-based Contractors Carcel & G Construction LLC completed the first phase of the Restore our Roads project more than two weeks ahead of schedule.
“We’re pleased to be able to deliver this road back to the public ahead of schedule and in plenty of time for the 2019 holiday season,” Huntsville’s Mayor Battle said. “We thank the public and nearby businesses for their patience as well as the Alabama Department of Transportation for meeting us half way to fund this critical project.”
The Land Trust of North Alabama parking lot on Cecil Ashburn Drive leading into the Blevins Gap Nature Preserve will remain closed to serve as a staging area to store equipment and materials for continued construction.
Huntsville Chief of Police Mark McMurray emphasized that despite excitement over the early opening, motorists should use caution on the reopened road and remember that speeding fines are doubled in an active construction zone, which Cecil Ashburn Drive remains until project completion in 2020.
“Please drive cautiously and obey the 35-mph speed limit,” McMurray said. “Our officers will be active in the area to strictly enforce the speed limit and encourage safe driving.”
The reopened road will have an immediate impact on congestion throughout the area.
“Reopening Cecil in record time will relieve congestion on Governors Drive and pave the way for the contractors to beat the deadline in Phase II of the project,” Urban Development Director Shane Davis said. “This is good news every way you look at it.”
Kathy Martin, Director of Engineering, praised contractors Carcel & G for their dedication to quality work and timeliness.
“Carcel & G put forth extra effort to restore traffic ahead of schedule. Now, they can complete the remainder of construction work safely alongside two lanes of traffic,” Martin said.
To allow traffic patterns to safely normalize on the newly opened lanes, Contractors will vacate the construction site for a few days before returning to begin work on Phase II of the project in approximately one week.
The Cecil Ashburn Drive Improvement Project is a collaborative effort between the City, State, specialized contractors and personnel. Lead team members and contractors include Carcel & G’s Project Manager Greg Wynn and City Project Engineer Alan Clements.
Cecil Ashburn Drive is an essential corridor connecting commuters in East Huntsville and Marshall and Jackson Counties to Downtown Huntsville, Redstone Arsenal, Cummings Research Park and beyond. Prior to the road improvement project start time, Cecil Ashburn Drive was over capacity with more than 17,000 vehicles per day traveling on the road.
Improvements will add additional capacity, expanding the road from two to four lanes, as well as providing safety upgrades.
Originally bid in May 2018, initial bid results for the Cecil Ashburn Drive Improvement Project came in over budget with an extended timeline of 2 ½ plus years to provide limited access to motorists during peak traffic hours.
The City of Huntsville rebid the project with a revised plan to close the road during Phase I to allow the contractor to complete the project in less than half the time. This approach saved taxpayers $7 million dollars and shortened the construction timeline from 32 to 18 months.
Phase II work will begin in November and will include completing water line installation and concrete work along the north side and as well as the remaining lanes along Sutton Road. The contractor will also install the final open-graded friction course layer and permanent striping and signage as the westbound lanes are completed. Remaining work will be temperature and weather dependent.
For more information on the Cecil Ashburn Drive Improvement Project, including progress reports, visit HuntsvilleAL.gov/Cecil