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Traveling Interstate 65

By Aaron Tanner

· Interstate 65,Alabama,Panama City Beach,Gulf Shores,Destin

Last weekend I drove to my grandma’s in the Big Bend region of Florida to see her for Easter. My dad also flew in from Colorado to help her with her taxes.

To get to Florida, I usually take Interstate 65, which stretches from near Chicago southward to Mobile in the southern part of Alabama. Many times, I have driven the route without incident.

Photo from Wikipedia

However, traveling on Good Friday, I ran into a lot of congestion on the interstate with not only holiday construction on the portion of freeway between Birmingham and Montgomery. The speed limit was down to 55 miles per hour in some spots, and there were state troopers next to stretches of the highway where construction workers were present ready to catch speeders.

Even though dealing with the traffic was tense at times, listening to books on tape helped me pass the time and stay calm. Fortunately, I timed my trip to avoid rush hour in Birmingham. I tried that particular scenario once, and it was not pleasant.

Because summer is the primary tourist season along the coast of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, traffic often bottlenecks on 65 between Montgomery and the Tennessee state line. For example, my mom and I got stuck in heavy beach traffic headed back from my grandparents on Labor Day in 2011. There was so much stop and go traffic that we took highway 31, which parallels Interstate 65 in Alabama, part of the way home. That nine-hour trip turned into a thirteen-hour journey.

With the massive construction expected to continue through the summer on Interstate 65, one will need to plan alternative routes. Another person with Aspergers, who also happens to be a roadgeek like me, Nathan Young, has a post on his website about recommended alternative routes to Interstate 65 when traveling to the beach and why the congestion exists in the first place during spring break and the summer routes. These routes may look like they are out of the way, but it beats being in stop and go traffic, and one gets to see a part of Alabama that one misses traveling at 70 miles per hour.

Photo from aaroads.com

Personally, I prefer going to the beach and seeing my grandma during the off-season when people are not traveling to Panama City Beach, Destin or Gulf Shores. If I go during the Christmas season, however, I have to contend with people driving from the Midwest and Northeast to the beaches of south Florida. Funny how Florida is so expansive that the state has two distinct peak tourist seasons.

For those going to the beach over the next few months, enjoy your trip.

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