Busy Interstate-65 is like a lifeline for the Gulf Coast and during hurricanes, it’s one of the main roads that takes you away from the storm. That’s why Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) practiced a hurricane evacuation Wednesday.
“If we do have a storm coming and there is a lot of people trying to evacuate or a mandatory type evacuation, you know, I-65 and the two lanes can only carry so much traffic,” said Don Powell, ALDOT Operations Engineer. “Then you have people sitting on the road, potentially in the storm, and we don’t want that.”
To prevent a big traffic headache, ALDOT reverses the lanes of southbound Interstate-65. This helps traffic move north, away from the coast up to exit 31 near Stockton. Contraflow, as it’s called, has been done on I-65 for two storms; Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Dennis in 2005.
Wednesday was just a practice for headquarters to make sure nearly 200 ALDOT employees are in the right place and ready for anything. But no matter how much ALDOT prepares, it is just as important for you to prepare.
“Heed that warning if you can,” said Powell. “Try and get out early because the latter you wait, along with everyone else, you have the potential to get stuck in that traffic.”
The practice was just that…a practice. The traffic on southbound interstate-65 was not actually reversed. Trucks waited at the ramps that would be closed during a contraflow.