HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -Work on Cecil Ashburn Drive is ramping up as crews get ready to start blasting the mountain.
The city says innovative methods are being used in the process to widen the road from two to four lanes.
Crews are pre-drilling and pre-splitting rock this week.
City leaders have addressed in press conferences leading up to the project that during rounds of public meetings, there were some questions and concerns about the blasting raised by residents.
Officials say there's a difference in the methods being used now, compared to what was used when the road was originally built.
“We are using an innovative method and much tighter spec than what was previously used. The contractor will be required to pre-drill and pre-split the rock, allowing much smaller, closer, less explosives to be used. This will minimize the disturbance, but it will also create a more stable rock face when the blasting is complete,” explained Kathy Martin, Director of Engineering for the City of Huntsville.
“We were able to utilize some of the over-blasting that had previously occurred and realign the road, further minimizing that disturbance as well,” she added.
The city reminds residents that not to trespass onto the closed road portion of the road where contractors are working due to safety concerns as a portion of the mountainside will be removed.
“I know that's been a concern through some of our community meetings on how that will be done. We have new technology on how we will remove that rock that will be much safer for residents, especially when it comes to sound and the actual removal,” said Urban and Economic Development Director Shane Davis. “It's a very unnerving thing to nearby residents but we have a great plan with our consultants of how we'll do that.”
Most of that removal will be processed within the construction zone, he added.
“That allows less construction traffic coming in and out of neighborhoods to get to the construction site. They'll be removing the rock, processing it, and putting it on the fill slopes on the downhill side to make the widening occur,” Davis explained.
Overall, the road improvement project will take 18 months. The contractor has plans to open two lanes- one in each direction- within 10 months.
GrowCove, a civic organization keeping residents informed about the project and other important happenings in the city, shared drone footage from of some of the progress workers have made since starting last week. It was taken by Mark Doering, with Available Light Real Estate Photography.
The City of Huntsville updated the roadwork page dedicated to Cecil Ashburn Drive on Monday with the following information:
This 3.4-mile project will widen Cecil Ashburn Drive, from two to four lanes between Old Big Cove Road and Four Mile Post Road, to improve traffic flow and incorporate safety improvements. The project includes eight-foot shoulders along each side of the roadway.
The Contractor has mobilized and began clearing operations near the center of the project site beginning on Monday, January 7th. Two crews are performing work heading east and west. Drilling and blasting operations are scheduled to begin Monday, January 14th, and are anticipated to last approximately 4 months during daytime hours. Terpo Services, Inc. has placed notifications in the mailboxes/doors of homes adjacent to the roadway project. (Terpo Seismograph Services, Inc. was contracted to perform pre-blast surveys and seismic monitoring. A pre-blast survey is a photographic documentation of pre-existing cracks and conditions.)
At the homeowner’s request, Terpo will perform a photographic survey to document the existing condition of the home. The benefit to the homeowner is the documentation provided by the survey in the event structural damage is sustained during the blasting process. This service is optional and is at no cost to the homeowner, however it is part of the contractor’s responsibility for the project.
The project is expected to be fully complete by May 2020. The contractor, Carcel & G Construction, will restore two lanes of travel (one lane in each direction) within 10-12 months. Project completion anticipated to extend an additional 8-10 months.
COST & FUNDING
Total cost: $18 million
Source of Funding: Local & State – Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT)
This is a Restore Our Roads project.