This Christmas season, there is a new Christmas attraction in Choccolocco Park called the Magic of Lights. Sure, it’s a great Christmas attraction and people are liking it. But, did the folks who run the City of Oxford plan for the traffic? Was there a traffic study? Did they plan traffic issues with the Magic of Lights organizers? Did Oxford work with the businesses in the Oxford Exchange over traffic issues? Because, after what I saw on Saturday night, I think the folks from Oxford just completely ignored the traffic issues and said “come on in” to the folks running the Magic of Lights.
When I was travelling westbound on Interstate 20 after covering the Heflin Christmas Parade, I saw a humongous traffic jam on the bridge on Leon Smith Parkway. I got off at exit 185 and went back to the exit 188 area and was appalled! You see, being the road geek that I am, you already know the Oxford Exchange area is the worst traffic chokepoint in Calhoun County during the Christmas season, so when you add a major Christmas attraction just down the road from the Exchange, you take the traffic problems from bad to incredibly worse.
I parked at Wendy’s and witnessed major traffic issues. Because of the major backups from the Magic of Lights at Choccolocco Park, traffic on Leon Smith Parkway (US 431) was backed up way past Interstate 20 and heading back towards Anniston.
At the Jimmy Hinton Drive intersection, traffic was blocking the entire intersection. And since traffic was not moving at all, other traffic could not move when they got the green light or arrow.
Plus, traffic on Jimmy Hinton Drive and the connector road to US 78 was not moving either. People could not access the local businesses because of blocking traffic.
I walked right up to the Interstate 20 bridge, and to just confirm my suspicions, it was not traffic from the Oxford Exchange causing this, it was that Magic of Lights attraction at Choccolocco Park causing this.
And if you were wondering, where was the Oxford Police, yes they were around. But they were not directing traffic, they were just going around in their cars with their police lights on and watching the traffic madness.
At times people actually got out of their cars and yelled to other drivers in acts of road rage. I mean, blocking intersections and acts of road rage is not in the Christmas spirit. It’s dangerous and can cause violence.
When people in their lane get the green light/arrow and can’t move because of blocking traffic, it’s never good and can cause a traffic engineer to go crazy. Some traffic even squeezed in between stopped cars to make the left turn. I can’t believe Oxford ignored traffic concerns when approving the Magic of Lights attraction.
And Oxford even had one of their portable traffic cameras out monitoring traffic and still did nothing about the traffic problems.
So Oxford officials, are you honestly going to do anything about this? People should not be sitting in stopped traffic for up to 30 minutes or more just to access Interstate 20 or the Oxford Exchange businesses. What if stopped traffic was so bad it got onto the Interstate? And people have little to no patience during the Christmas season, just the few acts of road rage I saw should be an alarm to the city officials.
There needs to be police at EVERY traffic light intersection on Leon Smith Parkway directing traffic, no doubt! And the City of Oxford must tell the people running the Magic of Lights attraction to speed things up or limit how many people can visit the attraction inside Choccolocco Park. And if you can’t solve the traffic issues, maybe the Magic of Lights attraction should not be allowed to come back at all.
Long term, this traffic issue proves why Oxford MUST get another access road built to the Oxford Exchange. The one way in and out via Leon Smith Parkway is not enough. There needs to be another road built across Interstate 20 to connect to US 78 so people can avoid the traffic issues and it would also be good in case of emergencies. Oxford could use a traffic engineer or someone who is a geek about roads like myself. I’m available for hire!