HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A big push is underway to support south Huntsville businesses impacted by the shutdown of Cecil Ashburn Drive.
Stores and restaurants on both sides of the mountain are stressing that they remain open during the roadwork.
Signs have been added along Cecil Ashburn Drive to let people know that they can still go to their favorite places as widening work continues on the mountain.
Contractors are on site doing work, clearing trees and blasting is expected to start next week but in Jones Valley and in over in Hampton Cove, it's business as usual.
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle tweeted that he enjoyed a meal at a restaurant on Cecil Ashburn when the shutdown started. He asked everyone to support area businesses during the length of the project.
“Our biggest concern is that people who typically patronize this restaurant aren't going to be able to get up over the hill and they're not going to want to do the longer drive to get here. We're looking at catering and a food truck but that takes resources too,” said Scott Harriman, owner of Anaheim Chili.
The city says businesses on both sides of the mountain could look at doing something similar to what was done during the overpass construction on South Memorial Parkway.
The South Huntsville Business Association was formed to host different events and reach out to loyal patrons.
“I think it’s very important to note that even though the road is closing, business is still open in the Jones Valley area and Hampton Cove. We really want to encourage people in those neighborhoods to really consider shopping local while this road is going to be closed for 10 months. Businesses are still going to be there and they’re going to need your support,” stated Harrison Diamond, the city’s Business Relations Officer.
Viewers have been providing feedback on traffic on the alternate routes this week.
Richard Williams lives in Hampton Cove and leaves his house around 6:15, which is 45 minutes earlier than usual. He works on Redstone Arsenal and takes 431/Governors Drive to get into Huntsville.
“The traffic is heavy, but so far, the drivers have been courteous. The flow has been consistent and manageable. I reverse the route home in the evenings, between 4-5 PM. The traffic appears to be heavier, but again, most people are courteous,” he said. “The only wild card to be seen is the NASA traffic. They remain on furlough.”
In regard to the estimated impact the Federal Government re-opening could have as it relates to commuters using the alternative routes in the wake of the Cecil Ashburn Drive closure, the city of Huntsville provided the following information:
Huntsville police say they worked a total of six wrecks between 5-9 a.m. on Wednesday on routes drivers are now using due to the Cecil Ashburn construction: Governors/Longwood, Governors/California, Memorial Parkway/Clinton.
Back on Cecil Ashburn, businesses are still trying to gauge the impact of the project on their bottom line.
“We have a lot of regular customers and some of them are in Hampton Cove and I think they'll still come over even though it's a longer trip but I don't think we'll see them as frequently, so we are anticipating a drop-off in our business,” Scott Harriman said at Anaheim Chili. “It’s just kind of wait and see. It's hard to predict it at this point.”
His restaurant is looking at making some menu changes to add in some new items. They’re also considering expanding catering.
Harrison Diamond says it’s important that businesses look at what their avenues are for reaching their customers.
“Facebook and Google are rich opportunities to target their customers. This is a chance for them to really own their territory,” he added. “Huntsville businesses have proven to be extremely resilient. We've gone through road construction projects and while they're painful, we come out better on the other side.”
Greg Parker, a Hampton Cove resident, remains optimistic about the whole situation. He’s liked in that are for 21 years.
“It’s a growing pain. We’re a big city. We’re doing a lot of things right and there’s a lot of industry, a lot of businesses coming here, and we need a bigger road. It’s a growing pain. Everybody be patient, slow down. Wave at your neighbor. Don’t blow your horn and we’ll all get there safely," he said.
On Wednesday, a driver posted photos of an area of concern on Governors Drive.
The Alabama Department of Transportation responded, saying crews would be out Thursday to make improvements at that location.