(MOBILE, Ala.) - With a growing reputation for traffic backups and accidents, there’s some concern the Wallace Tunnel could start steering away Mississippi and Louisiana beachgoers from Alabama’s beaches.
“If we don’t get this problem fixed, it’s going to be a huge impact,” Chuck Steeg, Chief Operating Officer of Meyer Vacation Rentals said. “The harder it gets to come to Gulf Shores, they’re going to be looking for other destinations to go.”
Steeg was in the audience Tuesday as ALDOT unveiled a new proposed project to cut down on congestion and accidents from the Texas Street exit to the Wallace Tunnel.
“The impact of this project is going to be huge on tourism,” Steeg told Local 15. “This project really needs to happen.”
Steeg said the major draw for beachgoers to Alabama from Mississippi and Louisiana is convenience and a shorter drive.
“Our major market is a four hour drive-to market for people from Mississippi and Louisiana,” Steeg said. “With it sometimes taking a total of six hours [because of] the tunnel, they’re going to be looking for other destinations to go to.”
Steeg is concerned tourists may become reluctant and start considering other options for vacation.
“If you’re in Louisiana, you can go to Galveston versus coming to our area,” Steeg said.
Orange Beach City Administrator Ken Grimes feels like tourists will flock to Alabama’s beaches despite the growing traffic problem, and is more concerned with the safety issues of passing through Mobile. On Tuesday, ALDOT officials said the short stretch of interstate where improvements will be made was the site of more than 180 accidents in the past three years.