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AL.com

AL - Alabama’s booming beaches lure record traffic, crowds. Is it ‘Worth the Wait’?

On a typical summer Saturday afternoon as beach tourists head north towards home from Gulf Shores or Orange Beach, it’s not uncommon to see Interstate 65 traffic heading into Birmingham backed up as far south as Alabaster, Lee Sentell says.

On a typical summer Saturday afternoon as beach tourists head north towards home from Gulf Shores or Orange Beach, it’s not uncommon to see Interstate 65 traffic heading into Birmingham backed up as far south as Alabaster, Lee Sentell says.

But during Memorial Day weekend, Sentell said he saw the traffic backing up several miles further south to Exit 234 at the Shelby County Airport near Calera.

Frustrating for motorists, but for the state’s tourism director it meant something else. “The entire state tourism industry experienced a great launch during the holiday weekend,” Sentell said.

For Alabama’s coastal areas, that re-launch into the summer followed an erratic pandemic-filled 2020 and produced record-breaking sales and occupancy figures for businesses throughout the region.

It also created a traffic nightmare with portions of I-10 between Mobile and Baldwin County turning into massive parking lots. Traffic jams occurred throughout Baldwin County, in cities like Daphne and Spanish Fort and within cities along congested Alabama State Route 59.

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