Roadscapes Stuff

Roadscapes Wednesday: Alternatives To The Interstate 65 Central Alabama Beach Traffic Madness


So you are heading to the Gulf Coast for a beach trip?  Congrats, during the Spring and Summer there are thousands of other people doing the same thing.  Not only from Alabama, but from other areas of the United States as well.

Every Friday through Sunday, and sometimes Monday too if it’s a national holiday, Interstate 65 from Birmingham to Montgomery becomes jammed with heavy traffic.  It’s not that unusual at all to see up to 100 miles of slow and stopped traffic in between Montgomery and Birmingham.

 

From Montgomery south, traffic splits off to their beach destination.  Some take US 231 to Panama City, some take US 331 to Destin, and some continue on I-65 to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.  But, from Montgomery to Birmingham, there is only one major highway, and for most of its length, it’s only two lanes in each direction.  For starters, the entire stretch of Interstate 65 from Birmingham to Montgomery MUST be 6-laned.  This stretch is the backbone of Alabama’s entire economy and it’s embarrassing to see this stretch of Interstate still at only four lanes.

Until ALDOT somehow finds the funding to 6-lane all of I-65 between Birmingham and Montgomery.  There are two stretches of highway you can take to avoid the I-65 massive traffic stop and go beach madness.

First, there is the Eastern Alternative Route.  From Montgomery, get on US 231 which will go through Wetumpka and Rockford.  Then at Sylacauga, get on US 280 and go to Birmingham.  This stretch is mostly a 4-lane highway with a 2-lane stretch through Coosa County.

Then, there is the Western Alternative Route.  From Prattville, take US 82 towards Centreville.  Then at Brent, exit off onto AL-5 north and take that highway to I-20/59, then follow the Interstate to Birmingham.  This stretch is mostly 2-lanes though.

So then you are asking, why not take US 31 between Birmingham and Montgomery?  Well, when there is a wreck or very slow traffic on Interstate 65, guess where the Interstate traffic is going to go?  Yep, onto US 31.

So there you have it, two alternative routes to avoid the massive traffic jams and backups on Interstate 65 in Central Alabama.  Now, when will ALDOT get all of I-65 widened?

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