TideFans’ Guide to a Gameday Weekend:
by 4Q Basket Case
- Official Gameday Traffic Details
- Pre-game traffic patterns
- Post-game traffic patterns
- Live: Traffic Map via AL DOT | Cameras
- New Traffic laws in Alabama (effective 9/1/2019)
If You Fly
If you’re planning on flying in, you’ll probably want to land in Birmingham and drive from there. In normal traffic, the Birmingham Airport is about an hour from Tuscaloosa. Atlanta is an option, but it’s about 3.5-4 hours each way, and you deal with the change in time zones.
Regardless of where you land, be sure to check ahead regarding detours. There’s often roadwork going on, so regardless of where you land, be sure to check ahead regarding detours.
If you fly in on Saturday, gameday traffic will definitely disrupt the normal time frame, so you need to allow at least a half-hour extra for that.
Note: There is some construction on McFarland Boulevard, on the north side of the river. Bad news is that it’s going to be there for a couple of years. Good news is that they’re keeping two lanes open both ways at all times … they’re just a bit narrower than normal. Further good news is that, being on the north side of the river, it shouldn’t affect gameday traffic much.
|Tweets by AlgoTraffic|
If you’re driving in on I-59/I-20, gameday traffic varies widely depending on a combination of quality of game, proximity of the opponent, and kickoff time.
Most people will be coming from or through Birmingham, so I’ll use that as the starting point. I’m also assuming that you didn’t spend Friday night in Tuscaloosa, and are driving in on gameday.
Under normal circumstances, with no construction and no wrecks, it’s about 60-75 minutes from Birmingham to Tuscaloosa.
Football traffic adds time. The closer to game time you’re hitting Birmingham, the heavier the traffic. Then there’s the construction and fallout from that…
Tuscaloosa Construction – Interstate and Downtown
THE TRIP IN TO TUSCALOOSA – DRIVING THROUGH B’HAM
Plan to be driving through Birmingham at least 4 hours before game time, earlier if you want the full gameday experience in Tuscaloosa. It’ll take 90 minutes to two hours to get to town, get parked and actually make your way onto campus.
Hitting Birmingham 4 hours prior will will give you no more than 90 – 120 minutes or so to enjoy gameday atmosphere, The Strip, etc., and about 30 minutes to get into the stadium and to your seat. Adjust your schedule as your desires for the day dictate.
Caveat: If it’s an 11:30am game, the inbound traffic flow gets compressed into a shorter time frame, and traffic from Birmingham to Tuscaloosa can start to build earlier.
The saving grace there is that, usually (but not always), the opponent for an 11:30am game is a non-conference directional school, and that cuts the crowd. If it’s an SEC opponent at 11:30am, I do my gameday enjoyment after the game.
UA put out a press release on 8/7/19 detailing these projects around the city. Most of this work is now completed.
For maximum enjoyment, plan to be in Tuscaloosa and on campus about 3-4 hours before game time. If you get there closer to kickoff, you’re going to have to make some compromises on your schedule.
Take I-59/20 to the I-359 spur (Exit 71). Take the 15th Street Exit to your right. Then take the first left onto Greensboro Avenue. Cross streets are numbered, and you’re moving down the number order – 14th Street, then 13th, 12th, 11th, then Paul Bryant (f/k/a 10th Street), etc.
Turn right onto 7th Street and continue a block or two to the Downtown Parking Deck. Parking is free. Turn left into the deck at the entrance between 23rd Avenue and 22nd Avenue.
If the deck is full, cruise around until you find something. Might be a few blocks away, but this is a generally safe area, and is patrolled on game days.
Park & take shuttle to campus
Starting 3 hours before game time, there’s a shuttle to campus from the Downtown Parking deck – $1 each way. You can ride it even if you don’t park at the deck. Take shuttle to campus. Or, if you’re early or just like to explore, the walk isn’t bad and takes you past some picturesque old Tuscaloosa neighborhoods along the way.
Other shuttles are available from on and off-campus parking. This includes shuttles from parking areas near the Recreation Center and local shuttles from various spots around town including University Mall. Check the UA Gameday Parking guide.
CLICK HERE to view the Off Campus Parking Map.
Other off-campus parking locations:
- DCH Hospital Employee Parking Lot | $20
- corner of Bryant Dr. and Dr. Edward Hillard Dr.
- Tuscaloosa Magnet School | $20
- off McFarland Blvd. and Campus Drive East
- Central High School | $20
- off 15th Street and 10th Avenue
- Parkview Center | $20
- 15th Street and Hackberry Lane
- The Arc of Tuscaloosa | $10
- 1330 University Boulevard; All proceeds directly benefit The Arc of Tuscaloosa.
Go back the way you came. Yes, there will be heavy traffic. But imperfect though it may be, this is the best way.
Whatever you do, do NOT use McFarland / Hwy 82 to get to I-59/20 after a game.
It’s kind of complicated, and has to do with left hand turns, construction, merging lanes on ramps and people not knowing any other way. Just believe me – you can use McFarland inbound, and to other destinations. You can use it outbound if it’s not game traffic. But DO NOT go to the interstate after a game via McFarland.
Alabama has two laws that will affect drivers driving in or through the state:
- ALL backseat riders must wear seatbelts
- Must drive in right lane unless passing (the “anti-road-rage” Act)
8/27/2022 – Minor updates related to construction. Removed Birmingham and I-59/I-20 construction warnings because those have been finished or mostly finished.
3/25/2022 – Updated to reflect completion of construction zones in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa and to list a few off-campus parking spots.
7/30/2019 – Updated Tuscaloosa and Birmingham road construction info to note that most, but not all, of the major projects are now complete.
8/26/2019 – Updated Tuscaloosa and Birmingham road construction info. Added link to driving laws changed in Alabama beginning 9/1/19.
4/20/2019 – Updated to include 10th Avenue project and press release by UA.
4/20/2019 – Updated to include additional details on I-59/20 construction in Birmingham and Lurleen Wallace Boulevard construction Tuscaloosa.