The Aug. 21 solar eclipse is expected to impact eastern Idaho’s highway system more than any event in recent history.
The Idaho Transportation Department is taking steps to mitigate danger and inconvenience, spokesman Bruce King said.
“The more traffic you have on the state highway system the more potential there is for congestion, and the more congestion there is the more risk of accidents, therefore we want to minimize any impediments to safe travel,” he said.
Hundreds of thousands of people from around the world are expected to visit eastern Idaho for eclipse weekend.
ITD officials are participating in monthly planning meetings with local law enforcement agencies and governments in preparation. Agency coordination is vital to visitor safety, King said.
“Coordinating will ensure eclipse-chasers are safe, their needs are attended to and traffic flows well,” he said.
The department will suspend construction projects and maintenance on most highways during eclipse weekend. Officials also are developing an incident response plan and identifying potential highway bottlenecks.
Interstate 15 exit 119 through Idaho Falls is currently identified as a potential high-traffic area, King said. Electronic signs will notify motorists of road conditions and congestion. Crews and flaggers may also be dispatched to deal with bottlenecks, King said.
Crews also will monitor rest areas and patrol highways in radio contact with emergency responders.
ITD officials also urge driver caution.
Exits and entrances are expected to be slow going, especially after the eclipse. Motorists should plan accordingly with water, food and fuel.
Motorists shouldn’t stop on any highways during the eclipse, and they aren’t allowed to park or camp in turnouts or side lanes.
Drivers also can call 511 or visit 511.idaho.gov for road conditions and other travel information during eclipse weekend.
Reporter Kevin Trevellyan can be reached at 208-542-6762.