HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - If you've tried to get to downtown Huntsville recently, you know that roadwork is causing some detours. But there's some good news.
Church Street- a main artery to the heart of the city- is expected to reopen in the coming weeks.
Rachel Rutledge, the owner of Off the Rack Boutique in Huntsville, has taken special steps to direct customers to her store near the corner of Church Street and Pratt Avenue.
"The construction out here is a mess. We've learned how to deal with it, but it is a mess," she said. "What we're seeing is a lot of confusion. People don't understand that the double solid yellow lines mean that they can go both ways. I get lots of phones calls from people asking how to get into my building."
She’s even taken aerial pictures and drawn arrows to help customers navigate around the orange cones.
"I want to show people how to get into the parking lot on our Facebook page," Rutledge added.
The nearby Schnitzel Ranch has cut its business hours because of the project. A sign on their door states that “due to the strong impact on our business caused by the road construction, we are forced to limit our business days.”
The restaurant is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday for lunch and dinner and on Sunday for lunch only.
"Thank you for your business, for your understanding and please keep supporting. Most small businesses do NOT survive a long-term construction like this," the sign reads.
The city says the Church Street project is important and key to reworking and improving traffic.
This project will widen and realign approximately one mile of Church Street from a two-lane road into five and four lanes, with bike lanes and sidewalks, beginning at Monroe Street in downtown Huntsville and continuing north to Pratt Avenue at Hundley Street.
The Church Street project will also realign Pratt Avenue to straighten out the “S” curve. Sidewalks are included in the road project, designed to enhance and improve this major roadway into the downtown area.
"That intersection needed to be reconfigured, however, it does involve a substantial amount of work. There's two very large bridges that are being constructed on that project, one at Church Street and one at Pratt Avenue," said Kathy Martin, Director of Engineering for the City of Huntsville.
Currently, the contractor anticipates reopening Church Street in the next month or so.
"Even though there is construction directly adjacent to the existing roadway, we do want to reopen it to get the traffic moving once again," Martin added.
The city asks drivers to be cautious in the area because it is an active construction zone. The project is expected to be complete late next year, in fall 2020.
Rachel Rutledge says her lease is up and the timing worked out. She’s moving her boutique to another location on Byrd Spring Road in mid July.
"I do hope that this construction makes this better for this area and I believe that it will over time. But we are moving down on South Parkway in front of Rosie's where we will be sure to get more foot traffic," she commented.
The cost of the Church Street project is $15.7 million. The Alabama Department of Transportation is contributing $13,940,800. The City of Huntsville is contributing $1,686,859.