’It’s been real stressful’: Businesses, drivers look forward to Cecil Ashburn reopening

Businesses, drivers look forward to Cecil Ashburn reopening

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - A major roadway that has been closed for nearly a year will reopen in one month. The Cecil Ashburn Drive project has seen “tremendous progress" and is on schedule to allow two lanes to open in October.

The past 9 months for drivers and businesses has been “stressful.”

Director of Communication for the City of Huntsville, Kelly Schrimsher, said in a statement Tuesday that drain work and paving is all that stands in the way of the “soft opening” of the roadway.

Roger McCaw takes the roadway to-and-from New Hope everyday. He says a 20 minute commute has turned into an hour. “It caused a lot of inconvenience.”

Governor’s Drive has been the main alternate route for motorists. Throughout much of the Cecil Ashburn closure, Governor’s Drive has also been under construction. Drivers say this has added even more time to the expected backups.

“A lot of our patients come just from seeing our sign," explained Dr. Elizabeth Duling. She owns a dentistry in Hampton Cove. "So, we haven’t had as many new patients as they past but we’re really excited for it to reopen.”

In a statement, Schrimsher said that the contractor is “making tremendous progress” and :focused on construction on all four-lanes of traffic while the road remains closed."

Those who live right above Cecil Ashburn called the project frustrating at times, but say they enjoyed less traffic and are excited to see things return to normal.

“With two lanes opening here soon, we’ll see quite an increase in traffic," said Clyde Luttrell who lives off Cecil Ashburn Drive.

Maintaining a successful business near the mountain has not been easy.

“It’s been very stressful, yeah! It’s been real stressful," said owner of Anaheim Chili, Scott Harriman.

Those who lives nearby have tried to help out. “We’ve tried to patronize those businesses as much as possible to offset the closing of Cecil Ashburn, but I know that they’ve probably had a pretty difficult time," admitted Luttrell.

Harriman has owned the restaurant at the foot of the mountain for 8 years. During the closure even his regulars aren’t in as often.

“This summer has been rough, that’s for sure. June and July were rough. Yeah, I’ve been worried for a while. I used to see them every two weeks, but now I don’t see them until every two months," said Harriman.

Through the slow days, Harriman is choosing to remain positive.

“We’re almost there.”
Scott Harriman, Owner, Anaheim Chili

Schrimsher says while there hasn’t been an exact date set, they are planning to open two lanes -- one in each direction -- within the first week or so of October.

The full project will be complete by May 2020.

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