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Expect Traffic Gridlock During April 8 Solar Eclipse

"I would roughly guess we typically see four or five hundred cars a day come up (Route) 201, multiply that by 10 times, and that’s a factor,” said Mike Smith, Somerset County, Ohio, Emergency Management director.

Car rush hours city street. Cars on highway in traffic jam
(TNS) - It’s an understatement to say a lot of people are going to see the total solar eclipse on April 8, but it means there’s expected to be a lot of cars driving across parts of the United States that day.

On April 8, a total solar eclipse will be visible from North America as it makes its path from Texas all the way northeast to Maine. This path of totality indicates when and where the 31.6 million people living along that path are expected to see the eclipse happening, weather pending, according to  NBC News.

NASA released a map detailing the trajectory of the 2024 total solar eclipse, with a clear view of the eclipse along the path starting in Mexico and moving across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine before exiting over the North Atlantic.

All of Coos County  in northern  New Hampshire will be within the eclipse’s path of totality with a 100 percent view of the celestial event. On March 25, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, local officials, New Hampshire State Police and New Hampshire Homeland Security and Emergency Management urged all visitors to Coos County to use state highways to reach eclipse-viewing venues and for their return trips home, according to a statement from NHDOT.

“Some secondary highways and local roads were not designed to handle large volumes of traffic, and springtime in the north country can bring frost heaves and very soft shoulders,” NHDOT said. “Traffic generated by the solar eclipse will impact roads throughout New Hampshire. Please obey all officers assisting with traffic control as well as all signs and traffic control devices. Be prepared for slow travel heading south after the eclipse on Monday evening.”

Coos County officials anticipate crowds of as big as 50,000 will gather for the event, according to Seacoastonline.

On the state’s tourism website, officials said there are limited roads leading in and out of the northern part of the state, so anyone about to hit the road should avoid any unnecessary travel on April 8.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation expects between 60,000 and 200,000 people to travel on its roads to see the eclipse, WPTZ reported. The agency’s director of finance and administration, Jayna Morse, told the news station that VTrans wants travelers to arrive in the days before the eclipse to lower the risk of traffic congestion.

“We’ve really been pushing the come early, stay late to help alleviate some of the pain points of traffic on those for those who might be coming up just the day of the eclipse,” Morse continued. “So, there might be some additional delays and travelers experiencing additional road users on the Tuesday and Wednesday following.”

Like New Hampshire, the path of totality runs along the northern end of Vermont. Barre, Montpelier, St. Albans and Burlington, among many communities, are all expected to have a full view of the eclipse.

Northern parts of I-89, Route 100, Route 7, Route 2, Route 5 and Route 22A should all see backed-up traffic “in the areas most closely aligned with the center of the pathway of the eclipse,” Morse told VTDigger.

The last New England state to see the eclipse will be Maine. Communities like Bingham, Greenville, Millinocket, Presque Isle and Houlton, among several others, lie along the path of totality. Towns like Houlton and Jackman are bracing for major traffic and plan to meet the influx of people with their own precautions.

The Houlton Police Department plans to close Market Square and surrounding downtown streets on Friday, April 5 , until the end of Monday, April 8, according to a statement.

Jackman could see as many as 4,000 visitors — just under four times the town’s population size, WCSH reported.

“That’s where I see the biggest issue,” Mike Smith , Somerset County Emergency Management director, told the news station. ”I would roughly guess we typically see four or five hundred cars a day come up (Route) 201, multiply that by ten times, and that’s a factor.”

Transportation agencies in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine all ask that people who plan to travel leading up to or on April 8 use to stay up to date on traffic and road closures.

NASA specified the times and locations where New Englanders can watch from within the path of totality, the local time for when totality begins on April 8 and how long it will last:

  • Burlington, Vermont,  3:26 p.m., 3 minutes
  • Lancaster, New Hampshire,  3:27 p.m., 3 minutes
  • Caribou, Maine,  3:32 p.m., 2 minutes

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