ODOT prepares for busy roads during solar eclipse

As many as 1 million visitors could be on Oregon roads

The moon is obscuring part of the sun during a solar eclipse in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, March 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Stargazers will be flooding to Oregon from across the world for the solar eclipse on August 21 and the Oregon Department of Transportation is predicting it will be the biggest traffic even in Oregon history.

Parts of Oregon are in the path of totality — the areas where the moon will completely cover the sun with its shadow. The path stretches some 60 miles south of Wilsonville and about 340 miles across the state. Oregon will be the first state to get a glimpse of the eclipse, which will be seen in 5 continents after the United States views it.

The path of totality for the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017 (Courtesy: NationalEclipse.com)
The path of totality for the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017 (Courtesy: NationalEclipse.com)

Campsites, hotels, parking lots and even spaces on private property quickly filled up along the Oregon Coast and beyond.

With so many out-of-state visitors who will be unfamiliar with Oregon’s roads, ODOT is encouraging everyone to be patient and expect delays. The event is due to happen between 9 and 10 a.m., but it will cause it to be dark outside. ODOT doesn’t want drivers to be “in the dark” when it comes to safely navigating during and around the time of the eclipse.

ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton said drivers should expect traffic jams on major highways in the path of totality and beyond. He expects I-5, Highways 97, 22, 20, 101 and roads leading through the Cascades and along the coast to be a mess.

He said people should bring alone extra food and water and get creative about possible bathroom emergencies that could happen during a traffic jam.

“It’s important to understand, we anticipate a lot of busy roads in the day before, but a bigger problem may be what happens after the eclipse, Monday afternoon when everybody decides to get home,” Hamilton said.

He encourages people to consider working from home or taking public transportation that day.

Crews will be stationed along major travel routes to help keep people safe. Officials will also be updating ODOT’s websites and social media pages frequently to keep revelers informed.

ODOT wrote the following warning to eclipse travelers:

“If travelers plan ahead and come prepared,
we’ll all dance together
for two unforgettable minutes
as the sun throws the moon’s shadow over us.
If travelers don’t plan ahead,
we’ll all go nowhere together
for many forgettable hours
probably throwing shade at each other.”

Complete coverage of the solar eclipse