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Shortcut To Florida Beaches Through Mobile AL I-65 VIA I-165 Connector

Updated on July 23, 2013

Beautiful Beaches Attract Gridlocked Traffic in Mobile

The beaches of the Alabama and Florida Gulf Coast regularly rank as the most beautiful beaches in the USA thanks to clear water and soft, white, sugar sand beaches. The drive down can be a fun trip in itself, unless you get stuck in the usual traffic of Mobile, Alabama. Like most cities, Mobile has a large area of suburbs with its usual commuters. When these commuters combine with summer beach travelers on the I-10 Interstate, the Bayway and George C. Wallace Tunnel can be prime time for a travel standstill that can last as long as 3 or more hours on the Mobile Bay. The good news is there is a quick way to bypass much of the traffic mess.

A Dauphin Street Scene

Surprised by the New Orleans feel?  Don't be- Mobile was first settled in 1702, many years before New Orleans.  Mobilians also started many aspects of Mardi Gras.
Surprised by the New Orleans feel? Don't be- Mobile was first settled in 1702, many years before New Orleans. Mobilians also started many aspects of Mardi Gras. | Source

Take I-65 To the I-165 Connector

The I-165 Connector to bypass several last miles of I-65 to I-10 Interstate exchange is going to save you a lot of time and potential traffic snarls. Most accidents tend to happen at the intersection of I-10 and I-65, with the vast majority happening also at the poorly-designed curved George C. Wallace East bound tunnel entrance. Read here to learn more about the dangers of this tunnel as well as the elevated Bayway over Mobile Bay. Some will also happen in busy Mobile around the various exits. If you look at the map below, you will see how much time this connector will save you and you can still stop to eat leisurely at one of the Causeway (the less-travelled Highway 98 lower road across the bay) seafood restaurants.

As you travel South on I-65 towards Mobile, you will take the I-165 Connector exit just after the two exits of Saraland (good stop for gas) and finally, Chickasaw. This connector is an elevated roadway over the impoverished small municipality of Prichard. While Prichard is known for crime, the roadway is brief and fast, with little traffic due to many lanes. I-165 will land at the foot of Water Street in very cool downtown Mobile, Alabama. Mobile was founded by the French in 1711 at this location and along Dauphin Street, you will find a lot of eateries as well as bars. Royal Street has a great stretch of museums.

Take I-165 from I-65 To By-Pass Mobile Alabama

Mobile's Architectural Heritage

3 Routes To The Beach

What's Your Favorite Route To The Beach

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Taking the Africatown-Cochrane Bridge

Map For Choice ONE- BAY BRIDGE ROAD will become the Causeway

Your Three Basic Choices

You have three basic choices. I will say this: during the summer, DON'T take the elevated Bayway. The odds are that you will be trapped at a standstill; as a local, I've seen many times where I checked the Bayway to see if it was moving along, it seem to be and then half a mile later: trapped! I always take the Causeway now.

  1. THE BEST WAY: From the I-165 Connector, BEFORE you get to Water Street end, TAKE THE BAY BRIDGE EXIT. This is also known as the Africatown-Cochrane Bridge. Read here to learn more. This is through a brief industrial area of Prichard and was planned for hazardous trucks to avoid the tunnels. The bridge is short and you will end up driving along the lower Causeway(HWY 98). You can get back on I-10 at Spanish Fort/ Daphne area after you have crossed the Bay. NO TUNNELS!
  2. George C. Wallace Tunnel: From the I-165 Connector, you will arrive at the Lower Water Street. Follow that along Mobile's waterfront and the foot of downtown until you come to exits marked Pascagoula or Pensacola. TAKE PENSACOLA, but prepare to enter the tunnel right at the entrance, which can be difficult when traffic is fast moving.
  3. Bankhead Tunnel: From the I-165 Connector, TAKE WATER STREET. TURN RIGHT ON ST. FRANCIS STREET. You will pass the ancient Bienville Square. You might want to park at the square and take a brief walk down Dauphin Street which is on other side of the square a block away. TAKE A LEFT AT JOACHIM STREET. This will allow you to catch a light at Government Street (HWY 90) so you will be able to enter the older(1941) Bankhead Tunnel, the local's favorite. TAKE A LEFT ON GOVERNMENT STREET. Enter the tunnel.

Map For Choice TWO- Wallace Tunnel & Water Street

Map For Choice THREE- BANKHEAD TUNNEL

Entering The Older Bankhead Tunnel

Map of Lower Causeway(HWYS 98 & 90) versus the Elevated Bayway

The Bayway is elevated with a higher speed limit; however, it also gets swamped with traffic and accidents.  The lower Causeway has less traffic, lower speed limit, and great restaurants.
The Bayway is elevated with a higher speed limit; however, it also gets swamped with traffic and accidents. The lower Causeway has less traffic, lower speed limit, and great restaurants. | Source

Alabama's Gulf Coast

Alabama Gulf Coast in Baldwin County
Alabama Gulf Coast in Baldwin County | Source

Final Thoughts On Timing

Your timing can make a big difference. Many people commute to Mobile from Mississippi to the west or from the Eastern Shore. The real problem is Friday, when people tend to take off early To head home or go to their own second homes on the beach. Expect bad traffic from 2 PM until 6:30 PM on Friday going towards the beach as travelers' and commuters' schedules collide. However, if you followed my best way to get there, you should be able to get past the worst of the traffic in Mobile. I can't promise anything as far as your beach destination!

The Beaches of 30-A In Florida

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