The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) made an unexpected announcement that they planned to reroute truck traffic to ease congestion caused by holiday travel on Thursday and Friday.
Around 1:30 p.m. on July 1, ALDOT’s Southwest Region Twitter account announced without warning that truckers traveling on I-10 in the Mobile area would have to make major detours as the George Wallace Tunnel was temporarily shut down for commercial vehicle traffic.
“Between noon and 6 p.m. today and tomorrow, commercial truck traffic may be detoured from I-10 at Exits 26b & 27 to the Africatown bridge. Use extra caution and expect potential delays as we approach this Fourth of July weekend.“
ALDOT said in a Twitter update on Friday that they plan to implement the restrictions again.
We anticipate implementing the commercial truck traffic detour today @ 11 AM depending on how quickly traffic volumes build. EB commercial truck traffic will be detoured from I-10 to I-65 north @ Exits 20 & 26b. WB truck traffic will be detoured to the US90/98 Causeway @ Exit 27
— ALDOT Southwest Region (@ALDOT_SW_Region) July 2, 2021
This marks the first time other than a hurricane emergency that ALDOT has rerouted truck traffic away from the George Wallace Tunnel, AL.com reports.
“While this contingency plan has been implemented successfully so far with a reduction of congestion and crashes along I-10, it is ALDOT’s intention to only implement this plan in rare cases of extreme high volumes of traffic. Use extra caution & expect potential delays” ALDOT said on Friday morning.
The Alabama Trucking Association’s President and CEO Mark Colson blasted ALDOT for their handling of the commercial vehicle restrictions. “The decision that was made was implemented very poorly and created some serious safety hazards, one of which was an officer standing in the middle of two lanes of the interstate which was not safe for him or surrounding motorists and caused unnecessary and unsafe backups,” Colson said.
“Closing a major interstate artery to commercial traffic is a major decision and should be communicated in advance to all stakeholders so that proper safety protocols and rerouting instructions can be implemented effectively. It is our hope that if this decision is made in the future, more thought is given to safety and planning and communication,” Colson continued.
Transportation authorities in Alabama are considering a proposal to permanently close the George Wallace Tunnel to truck traffic and reroute trucks onto a yet-to-be-built truck-only bridge over the Mobile River. Trucks would be issued a $10 to $15 toll to cross the bridge if the proposal passes.