Planning on leaving the day of to see the eclipse? WSDOT says think again
TRI-CITIES, Wash. – With thousands of people coming to the area to see the eclipse, Washington Department of Transportation and Oregon Department of transportation said it won’t be just a one day trip for folks here who want to drive down to see it.
WSDOT and WSP are urging people to plan ahead, and expect heavy traffic delays.
"Please plan your trip in advance because there may be extra traffic," Trooper Chris Thorson said.
Transportation officials said going to see the eclipse is more than a one-day deal, and leaving the morning of the eclipse is not a good idea.
"If you try to go down just a couple hours before, you may get stuck in heavier traffic and miss the event," Thorson said.
Transportation officials said this is a several day event, you’ll want to get there early, stay through the weekend and into Monday, and even stay late.
If you try to hop on the freeway after the eclipse is over, WSDOT said you'll probably be sitting there a long time.
Meagan Lott, WSDOT spokesperson said it's important to know, hotels and campgrounds have already been booked a year in advance and no there's no camping allowed at rest stations.
WDOT says I-5 between Vancouver, Washington into Portland is typically slow-going and regularly backs up for miles. Now imagine thousands more added into the mix, creating even longer delays.
Several Other highways could see unusual congestion, such as:
• I-82 – Benton County
• US 97 – Klickitat County
• SR 14 – Columbia River Gorge
• US 197 – Dallesport
• I-205 – Clark County to Portland
• SR 433 – The Lewis and Clark Bridge in Longview
• SR 4 – Longview to Naselle
• SR 401 – Naselle to Dismal Nitch
• US 101 – Ilwaco to Astoria
If you are traveling to see the solar eclipse, Lott suggests you bring extra things like water, a first aid kit, and any tools you might need in case you have car troubles along the way.
"Make sure your gas tank is full, make sure your car fluids are good with a good charged battery,” Thorson added. “There’s just some extra things to think about if you plan on heading out down into Oregon."
Transportation officials are also stressing safety on the road.
"The last thing we want you to do is to stop on the highway, park on the shoulders, use your cell phone to video while driving,” Thorson said.
Troopers said crews may need the shoulder in case of an emergency and your car could start a brush fire, so be sure to find a safe place for you and your family to watch this cosmic event.