The Traffic Race: Is Hwy 31 a better alternative to I-65?

CALERA, Ala. (WIAT) — Every morning, I track the major delays from Shelby County into downtown. As the traffic anchor, my focus is to get you and your family to work and school as safely and as quickly as possible.

The delays start forming like clockwork every day around the Shelby County Airport and the Alabaster promenade. Most of the time, Highway 31 delays don’t appear as bad, but the interstate still has the fastest drive time. When there is an accident on the interstate, the recommended alternate route is Hwy 31.

But is Hwy 31 really a better alternative?

Meteorologist Sarah Cantey and I got out of the studio and into the delays to test these routes. We raced from Calera to Railroad Park during the morning rush hour to see which route is quicker.

We met at the Walmart parking lot in Calera. I took Hwy 31 and Sarah took I-65. Our “traffic race” started from the intersection of the interstate and highway right at 7:35am.

As you will see from the video, we both endured some major delays – it’s not a quick and easy commute! Sarah was passing Interstate 459 on I-65, while I was passing County Road 87 on Hwy 31. It wasn’t looking good for me at this point!

Sarah arrived at Railroad Park by way of I-65 in 57 minutes. I got there, by way of Hwy 31, 18 minutes later. On this race day, there were no accidents on the interstate or highway from Calera to Birmingham.

Moving forward, always stick to the interstate if no accidents are reported. If there is an accident, let’s say in Hoover at exit 252, hopping off at I-459 and taking Hwy 31 for a couple miles is not a bad idea, but make your way back to I-65 for the most efficient commute!

The Traffic Race is not over! In a few weeks, we put Highway 280 and Interstate 65 to the test! Which one, from Shelby County, takes longer? Stay tuned, we’ll do the work for you.

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