CSP warns of massive traffic increase for solar eclipse

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LAKEWOOD, Colo. — The Colorado State Patrol issued important warnings to drivers who expect to be on the road before, during and after the Great American Eclipse on Monday.

The CSP said it’s nearly impossible to anticipate how many vehicles might be passing through Colorado heading north toward the path of totality.

However, Wyoming estimates 600,000 people will head to the state on the day of the eclipse — and the CSP expects the majority of those people will be coming from more heavily populated areas to the south.

“We are absolutely expecting a substantial increase in traffic volumes on all of our major roadways to include I-76 and I-25, also Highway 85 and Highway 287, potentially,” Major Tim Keeton stated Tuesday.

“Everything going north is going to have an increased traffic volume.”

Increased traffic levels are expected to impact the morning and afternoon rush on Monday. The traffic volume is expected to be higher than the average holiday weekend.

The CSP issued instructions for drivers:

  • Pay attention to the road. “I-25 is fairly close to capacity along the Front Range right now. … We all know what happens when we have a crash on I-25. It affects everyone in the whole system. So the first thing, let’s not have that crash,” Keeton said.
  • Stay off phones.
  • Follow at a safe distance. Give time to react if the driver in front slows down or stops.
  • Drive with the flow of traffic. Don’t go the speed limit if everyone else is going slower.
  • Do not stop on the roadway unless it’s an absolute emergency. “That is the most dangerous thing you can possibly do,” Keeton said. Drivers who stop on the side of the road might be issued a citation.
  • Don’t start a fire. Don’t pull over and park a hot car on dry grass and don’t throw cigarettes out the window. “The biggest thing that will shut this event down and will shut the roadways down is a fire that is casting smoke across the entire interstate system,” Keeton said.
  • Be patient. “Road rage is a substantial concern. … Everybody is going to be frustrated if our traffic systems slows down substantially in areas that aren’t normally slow. … People are going to have to exercise greater patience than they normally would to their fellow motorists,” Keeton said.
  • Don’t make unnecessary calls from cellphones. Overwhelming the system will make it more difficult for people who need help to get through to emergency responders. The CSP also discouraged people from sending unnecessary texts.

The CSP recommends people leave days before the eclipse or travel very early in the morning on Monday.

Keeton said agencies across the state are increasing staffing for the day of the eclipse to have the capacity to respond to incidents faster.

There will be additional troopers, deputies, police, firefighters, ambulance crews, Colorado Department of Transportation crews, tow trucks and courtesy patrols on standby, staged on routes that include I-25 and U.S. Highway 287.

Keeton said it’s an unprecedented effort.

“We have not done this at this level, primarily because we’ve never had an event that we think is going to bring this high a volume of traffic to the area,” Keeton stated.

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