Heavy traffic, congestion expected as travelers flood Kentucky f - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Heavy traffic, congestion expected as travelers flood Kentucky for solar eclipse

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The total solar eclipse on Aug. 21 will be a once-in-a-lifetime event that will be readily visible in 14 states, including 10 Kentucky counties, and Kentucky Transportation Cabinet officials are warning truckers and travelers to be ready for heavy traffic in the days and weeks leading up to the event. 

Transportation cabinet officials say more than half the nation is within a day’s drive of the eclipse path, and it's expected to bring up to a half-million visitors to Kentucky. 

[VIDEO FAQ: What you need to know about the Total Eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017]

With thousands of people on the move, transportation cabinet officials are alerting truckers and other cross-country travelers who may be on the road during the days before and after the eclipse to be ready for potential traffic slowdowns and bottlenecks.

Long-haul trucker Shawn McGuirk, who calls Paducah, Kentucky, home, says he’s going to make every effort to be off the road the day of the eclipse, but taking the several says before and after the eclipse off is out of the question.

"Our company safety people are looking into shutting down on Aug. 21, the day of the eclipse," McGuirk said. "During the days just before and just after the eclipse, I’ll try to avoid the eclipse corridor, especially areas expecting a high number of visitors. I’ll also be looking at parallel routes that keep me out of the eclipse path."

Truckers won't be the only ones affected by traffic problems caused by the eclipse, so officials also want vacationers and other cross-country travelers who may have no interest in watching the eclipse to be aware of the expected traffic surge.

"We are aware of several museum, school and church groups bringing tour buses and dozens of vehicles in caravans to watch the eclipse,” said Keith Todd, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 1 & 2 public information officer.

“We have no way of knowing how many more people are out there, individuals or groups, who could be planning something similar. We can look at the Woodstock event in 1969 and similar events to have an idea what happens when a half million people are on the move.”

[5 things you need to know to get the best view of the total solar eclipse]

One concert venue along KY 91 near the Christian-Caldwell county line is expecting up to 20,000 to attend at that location. The City of Hopkinsville has visitors coming from 16 countries and 36 states. Favorable weather and being at ground zero for longest duration of the total eclipse has put Hopkinsville on a list of top 10 locations to view the event.

"We want truckers, vacationers and anyone else who may be on the road between Aug. 16 and 22 to be very aware of the potential for heavy traffic as they go from point A to Point B," Todd added. "During the July 4 holiday, AAA predicted low gasoline prices would put a record 44 million Americans on the road. Continuing low gas prices could enhance the number of people who plan to travel to and from the total eclipse corridor."

Traffic through Kentucky along Interstate 24 and Interstate 69, as well as the Pennyrile Parkway and the US 68/KY 80 Corridor is expected to be especially congested in the western half of the state before, during, and after the eclipse.

Kentucky Transportation officials are joining with Kentucky State Police and emergency management agencies to do what they can to keep traffic moving. Officials are urging the public to be prepared for the following traffic-related challenges that may arise:

  • Businesses and visitors should be prepared for periods of heavy traffic.
  • Restaurants and grocery stores should prepare for heavy demand for gas and food.
  • Employees need to allow extra travel time so they can get to and from work in a timely manner.
  • Citizens should prepare for potential long lines at fuel pumps.
  • Citizens should be aware that vendors may have trouble delivering food, fuel, groceries and other critical supplies due to traffic congestion.

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