What is Contraflow Lane Reversal?

Contraflow lane reversal is a program designed for quick emergency evacuation of an area. Incoming highway lanes to a city are changed to outbound lanes. This doubles the number of lanes available for outbound evacuation traffic. Crossover sections are used to move outgoing traffic to these lanes. All incoming traffic is blocked until the end of the program. Usually, the term is used to refer to reversal of lanes which are normally only configured for travel in one direction; changing the configuration of reversible lanes such as for rush hour is not normally considered contraflow lane reversal.

Contraflow lane reversal is usually done to freeways and other controlled-access roadways. Use of contraflow lane reversal is generally considered to be an emergency measure only, as the contraflow lanes (and any associated ramps at interchanges) lack proper signage, signals, and other traffic control devices needed to orderly conduct traffic in the opposite direction. Generally, a significant number of police officers, or other officials, are needed to manually direct traffic during a lane reversal (especially at interchanges, where ramp traffic in the wrong direction must intersect with other roadways operating normally).

Alabama Contraflow Lane Reversal

During times of evacuation of the Alabama Gulf Coast, the portion of I-65, stretching from Mobile, turns all traffic northbound. Contraflow, in this situation, usually ends in or near Montgomery.

I-65 was under contraflow long before Hurricane Ivan devastated the Alabama Gulf Coast region. I-65 is usually in contraflow longer than some other interstates that accommodate more traffic this way because of the large population that lives in Mobile and Baldwin Counties. This region contains less people than other gulf coast regions, but, the Alabama Gulf Coast residents do not have many other major arteries out of the Mobile Area as the larger regions along the coast do. Most traffic is funneled northward, towards Montgomery, on I-65, US 31, US 45, and US 43.

Please note that only the Governor can issue a contraflow lane reversal order!