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Beat I-10 Tunnel Traffic in Mobile, AL

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Demi writes articles on traveling and traversing through traffic to provide readers with the best possible outcome and help save them time.

Learn to avoid traffic with these tips.

Learn to avoid traffic with these tips.

When Summer Attacks

In the summer, I-10 is clogged from Mississippi to Florida with vacationers visiting the beautiful sugar sand and emerald water beaches along the Gulf Coast, particularly the Florida Panhandle and Orange Beach, Alabama.

The I-10 George Wallace tunnel has a huge design flaw—an extremely curved entrance—that slows down traffic and has even resulted in deaths. Don't drive beside large trucks on the curved part; there have been two accidents in particular from two-tiered cattle trailers where the cargo shifted on the angled curve, resulting in deaths as the truck toppled over on the car traveling beside it.

Some may feel death is preferable to the slow madness that occurs when one is backed up for as much as three hours at the tunnel either on the Bayway, a 6.2 mile stretch with few ramps on or off, or at the west side of the tunnel.

Cruise Through It Like A Local

Even political luminaries such as President Clinton's consultant James Carville have been caught in the grueling traffic, telling local officials, "I love Mobile, but that tunnel is the damnedest thing I ever saw. I tell you, going through there is a pain, and there just ain't no way around it." Actually there is another way; in addition, you'll go through some of the historic residential areas and it will save you time, if there is a traffic jam.

Is Traffic Backed Up To I-65?

  • Take I-65 to East on Government Street, which is also HWY 90.
  • Follow it through the Bankhead Tunnel and stay on the lower Causeway, which travels parallel to the Bayway.
  • You will be able to get back on I-10 at the next exit in Spanish Fort; look for the 1-10 signs.
  • You'll drive by Toomey's Mardi Gras—why not stop in and get some beads?
  • Further down, on Government Street downtown, visit the Carnival Museum and learn how Mobile started Mardi Gras.
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Is Traffic Backed Up To Michigan Street Exit?

  • Take the exit North Michigan and follow it until it deadends at Walgreen's on Government Street/HWY 90,
  • Take a right and follow it through the Bankhead Tunnel, see above for more info.
  • The same goes for Broad Street; you would go right on Government/HWY 90.
  • On Government Street, you'll see Saucy Q Bar B Que, a local BBQ joint.
  • Or take a break for a tour of the Oakleigh Mansion and the Oakleigh Historic Complex on Roper Street with a famous hamburger at Callaghan's Irish Social Club on Marine Street.

Avoid Rush Hour Traffic

  • Fridays everyone takes off early so rush hour would be anytime after 2 p.m.
  • Get a great lunch of gumbo and a fried oyster po-boy at Wintzell's, a famous old seafood restaurant on Dauphin Street dating to the 1930s and then get on your way.

Summer Fridays—A Way To Bypass Both Tunnels!

  • Take the Cochrane-Africatown Bridge! In the past year, even Bankhead Tunnel (Government Street) is backing up on Friday afternoons.
  • Sometimes they close the Bankhead Tunnel for repairs as it is pretty old now (1941). Basically just follow the signs for "Hazardous Trucks."
  • Stay in the right lane of Government , as the left lane is for the tunnel.
  • Continue on past the tunnel until road deadends on Water Street.
  • Take a left and take I-165, soon you will take right on Africatown/Cochrane Bridge, go over the bridge and you will end up on the Causeway. This way was designed for trucks with hazardous chemicals.

A Transportation Quandary

Transportation over the waterways of Mobile have come a long way since my grandfather was a boy taking ferries over the Mobile Bay. Later, the Causeway was built in the 1930s and my mother remembers jaunts to beach that always included a stop at Wintzell's for some oysters. As traffic has increased due to poor initial design of the tunnel, there is talk of a bridge going over the heart of the historic districts, destroying the little heritage we have left. Tight-knit, thriving, and historic African-American communities south of Canal Street will be decimated financially as the footings for such a bridge will tower over their homes and cars high above will rain parts down below. Meanwhile, city officials refuse to post signage for unfamiliar travellers that would substantially educate and change traffic patterns to the benefit of everyone.

Proposed Bridge For I-10

Old City Hall— Royal Street

 Circa 1855 Old City Hall/Southern Market on Royal Street would be negatively impacted by the proposed bridge.

Circa 1855 Old City Hall/Southern Market on Royal Street would be negatively impacted by the proposed bridge.

Enjoy the Bay As You Make Your Way

With some foreknowledge, enjoy the beauty of Mobile's bay as you make your way on I-10. With your help, we can help preserve such treasures as the Old Southern Market/Old City Hall, which is the oldest continually occupied city hall in the US, the Down the Bay historic community as well as the Church Street, Oakleigh Garden, Leinkauf Historic Districts, and our historic ship-building industries. Hopefully, your family can use this information to stay safe from dangerous accidents as well as you pass through Mobile's George Wallace tunnel.

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