A sign that formerly read "business for sale" was changed to "we be open" Thursday morning as traffic once again began rolling down Alabama Highway 69.

The sign is located in front of Dibble's Hardware, a family-owned business that was cut off from its customers when a 3.5-mile section of the roadway was closed approximately four weeks.

"I didn't order a single thing the whole time," said owner Don Dibble. "I didn't have to. I wasn't selling anything."

According to the Alabama Department of Transportation, the road was closed when a large section suddenly collapsed directly in front of the east-side County Road Department.

That incident was blamed on an underground spring that washed out the road's base out.

While initial estimates projected it would take more than two months to repair, ALDOT issued an incentive contract to get the road opened sooner.

That contract, which was awarded to Whitaker Contracting Corp., paid a standard rate of $502,078 to complete the project, but it also promised an extra $10,000 per every day of early completion.

With a 25-day deadline, the contractor took just seven days to complete the job, maxing the $180,000 bonus limit.

Crews were seen adding guard rails to the sight Thursday morning.

Whatever the cost, Dibble said he was glad the road was open again as customers lined up for the first time in weeks.

"When I put the business for sale sign up, they told me it might hurt my customer traffic," he said. "I told them I didn't have any traffic to hurt."

Dibble also reported he would have sold the business while the road was closed, if only someone had made an offer.

When the road first closed, he reported a two-thirds reduction in business.

During that time, he said nearly all potential customers were diverted away from 69 on County Road 1554, part of the detour route. In the meantime, he said he had just gotten in $12,000 worth of spring merchandise and nobody to sell it to.

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