UPDATE: Cecil Ashburn Dr. shutdown leads to more congestion than expected on Governors


It’s “Day One” of the major road closure impacting thousands of people on their commutes.

Cecil Ashburn Drive shut down Monday morning and most lanes won’t open back up for most of this year so workers can widen the road. New signs and longer green lights are now on the alternate routes.

Huntsville’s city planner says there’s been a little more congestion than expected on Governors Drive. A traffic engineer timed it out during morning rush hour.

“The Raceway service station to California took him about 12 minutes, which is actually not a bad time for the middle of peak commute,” said Dennis Madsen, the city’s urban and long range planner.

People who work at businesses along the now more-trafficked alternate routes say their commute takes 10 to 15 minutes longer. They bring up that it’s good weather and this is just the first day. 

Madsen says the city will have public safety crews on hand in bad weather in anticipation of accidents. Crews will also be around on the alternate routes.

“We didn’t just sort of set it and forget it,” Madsen said. “We are going to be monitoring all the corridors and all the alternatives for the next month or so.”

Madsen urges you to take the new detours instead of back roads because the alternate routes were made for heavy traffic. Those routes are US 431 via Governors Drive, US 72 via Eastern Bypass/Rock Cut Road, and US 231 via Hobbs Island Road. 

“Some folks who may be trying out new routes are a little unfamiliar with the routes so they may stop or make turns that aren’t expected,” Madsen said. “Leave a little extra space to make sure you don’t get into that accident. Because it’s this kind of new ground that may cause folks to get into fender benders and that really can slow things down.”

They’re shooting for 10 months to get one lane in both directions open. The whole project is set for 18 months and Madsen says the contractor is heavily incentivized to get it done within that time frame.

Read more about the impacts of the road closure in “Related Headlines”.

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