Preparing for the Eclipse Traffic

We are just about 12 weeks away from the total solar eclipse and with it, thousands of visitors will be on Tri-State highways and by-ways.

Transportation officials in Kentucky are working to prepare as best they can for all the extra traffic. Eclipse event planners are planning for the large number of cars, campers, and buses heading to Madisonville, Hopkinsville, and other places along the path.

Highway 41 is expected to be one of the busiest roads on the days leading up to the eclipse. Visitors from throughout the country could use this highway in the middle of road work scheduled for this summer on the twin bridges. People coming to western Kentucky should expect and plan for the higher traffic.

"We normally handle traffic for a lot of different events, but this one is different," says Keith Todd of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. For an event lasting less than three minutes, the traffic could be around for days.

"We have another 11 counties that are anticipating perhaps traffic issues because of the influx of visitors, Todd says. He also says anywhere from 65,000 to up to 250,000 visitors are expected across western Kentucky, one of the prime viewing areas. Highways like I-24 from Nashville to Paducah could see up to double the number of vehicles it sees a day, and I-69 is expected to packed.

“A lot of those people are probably going to say, ‘Well, I’ll just go ahead and camp Monday night and I will head home Tuesday. so, we're expecting the possibility of some heavy traffic Tuesday morning as a lot of people that are camping and spending the night are leaving,” says Todd.

With all the moving traffic, there are concerns over traffic stopped along the road.

"People pulling off the side of the road, in the median, and everything to watch the event. then trying to get back on the interstate or parkways could be dangerous," says Frank Wright of Hopkins County EMA. Transportation officials say visitors should not stop along highways, bring enough water and food for the trip, be prepared for traffic delays, and expect gridlock after eclipse.

"Be careful. stay a little bit longer. don't take any chances or anything like that. just be extra cautious," Wright says.
Todd warns anyone stopping along the side of the road to watch the eclipse could be cited for impeding traffic.

(This story was originally published on May 25, 2017)


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