Welcome to traffic

This sign welcomes visitors to Oxford on Alabama 21, where just a few miles north the highway bogs down with traffic as Calhoun County's main north-south artery.

Friday, Aug. 1, 5:39 p.m. — Except for its difficult transition through Montgomery, Alabama 21 alternates between two-lane and four-lane versions. If you drive the whole thing, Florida to Piedmont, it certainly seems as if you spend more time on two-lane roads with minimal traffic and lots of country scenery.

Then there’s Calhoun County.

The truth is brutal: the most unenjoyable part of driving all of Alabama 21 is the part at the heart of Calhoun County. On Alabama 21, there is traffic in Atmore and Monroeville, Wetumpka and Sylacauga, but nothing like it is in Calhoun County. (Montgomery, being a traffic beast in and of itself, is left out of this discussion.)

Friday morning, just before lunchtime, Alabama 21 through Oxford was its usual congested mess. Traffic snarled around Walmart and Interstate 20. It stayed heavy crossing the bridge into Anniston, and the bottleneck on Alabama 21 (Quintard Avenue) where it narrows to two lanes from three lanes heading up toward McClellan brought traffic to a crawl.

Clearly, Alabama 21 is vital to Calhoun County transportation; it is the main north-south artery we have. It remains to be seen how the traffic on that road changes, if it does, when Veterans Memorial Parkway is finished. While Annistonians rave about the beauty of the trees on Quintard, it’s nonetheless common to hear people in Calhoun County complain about 21’s traffic, especially during peak hours.

That’s a rarity for most of Alabama 21.

— Phillip Tutor