On Aug. 21, the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse since 1918 will span 70 miles wide from Oregon to South Carolina, according to NASA. The moon will completely cover the sun.
Many people from around the country have been planning their trip to see the eclipse for years. Several states are planning ways to deal with the congestion and route freight carrying trucks around the eclipse viewers.
Oregon’s Department of Transportation has advised companies to reschedule their delivery plans. Oregon’s only specific restriction is prohibition of extra-wide loads between Aug. 18-22. Extra-long and overweight loads still will be allowed.
“Having more vehicles on the road than we have had before is going to be a new experience. Overwidth vehicles take up more than a standard lane and require escort vehicles, which will block passing traffic at narrow locations such as bridges. Because we expect gridlock, we don’t want to add bottlenecks that slow traffic further,” said David House, a spokesman with Oregon DOT’s Motor Carrier Transportation Division. “Some people have been planning this for years. We can’t stop all these people from coming.”
“There are some who are in denial — like this is a Y2K thing,” House added. “All we can do is warn them. We can’t suddenly double our highway capacity.”
Missouri’s Department of Transportation is facing additional challenges. Aug. 21 falls during two other heavy traffic events in Missouri: move-in for university students and the final day of the state fair. Missouri’s DOT is working with companies so that superloads will move before or after Aug. 21. A superload there is 160,000 pounds, 16 feet high, 16 feet wide, and 150 feet long.
Several states, in addition to the Federal Highway Administration, have released safety tips to the public such as driving with headlights on as the sky dims, and even packing extra food.