Officials warn of heavy traffic ahead of solar eclipse

Elaina Athans Image
Tuesday, August 15, 2017

While the 'Path of Totality' won't cut through the Triangle, the North Carolina Highway Patrol is expecting a burst of travelers to hit our local roadways. Some folks will be heading South Carolina while others to the western most part of the state.

ABC11 found signs posted on local interstates urging folks to plan ahead and warning that there will be heavy traffic thanks to the solar eclipse.

"We're not only expecting North Carolina residents to surge to that portion of the state, but we're also expecting residents from surrounding states to enter the western portion of North Carolina to observe," said Highway Patrol Sgt. Michael Baker.

More than 7 million Americans are expected to travel for the celestial event.

The DOT estimated more than two million will head down to South Carolina and a million to the western most part of our state.

"Several motorists are going to be flooding the roadways tending to get to the western most part of the state where the total eclipse is suppose to take place," said Baker.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is suspending construction work and lane closures in the 17 westernmost counties in the state.

A spokesperson tells ABC11 that DOT will be keeping a close eye on the Fortify project. If traffic becomes a problem on I-40, the department has the power to order the contractor to halt to work.

A big fear is that eclipse watchers won't be able to get to their intended destination in time and might just pull over to watch the show.

"Please do not stop within the roadway. try to find a destinated parking around. don't park on the shoulders or the median portions of the roadway because again there's going to be a large influx of traffic and we don't want all those people getting on the road at one time," said Baker.

Officials are pleading with folks not to call 911 unless there is in an fact an emergency. Highway Patrol says during Hurricane Matthew, dispatchers were inendated with calls from people frustrated with traffic and wanting to know the best routes.

The DOT says traffic is expected to heavy Monday, particularly on the I-95 corridor, as folks head home after observing the eclipse in South Carolina.

READ MORE: ABC11 eclipse page