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eclipse traffic

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#1 Nicole Sharp

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Posted 13 April 2024 - 05:51 PM

I am happy to report that there was absolutely no traffic on April 7, April 8, or April 9, all the way from Maryland to Vermont and back.  The only exception was for maybe about 15 minutes around Syracuse for highway construction, but that was all local vehicles (at least 99% New York tags), and only going north on April 7, not going south on April 9.  On the evening of April 7, the morning of April 8, and the evening of April 8, I drove for long periods through upstate New York where I was the only vehicle on the road.  Even at the best possible eclipse observing site for the entire State of Vermont (Jay Peak, the highest point in the state, elevation 1176 meters), the parking lot was only half full for the eclipse on April 8.

 

It looks like the news reports vastly over-estimated the number of eclipse travelers?  Going from Maryland to New York, I had expected severe traffic at least anywhere north of the "choke point" around Syracuse.  News reports said that the cellular telephone networks would crash, rest stops would be out of basic necessities such as food and toilet paper, and traffic delays especially after the eclipse on April 8 could be up to 12 hours sitting in traffic.  I brought emergency blankets, canned food, and toilet paper but ended up not needing it.  Cellular telephone service did stop about an hour before the partial eclipse began and then returned by the time the partial eclipse had ended (a lot of people left after totality).  The Subway in Enosburg on April 8 was out of meatballs but I was able to get a full meal at the Burger King in Swanton instead.  KFC in Ithaca on April 9 was likewise just about out of chicken but I got the last four pieces.  I also had no problems getting a same-day hotel reservation in Ithaca for April 9 so I didn't have to drive all the way home (trying to go up in one day was harsh even without traffic).

 

April 7 (Cumberland, MD → Altoona, PA → State College, PA → Elmira, NY → Ithaca, NY → Syracuse, NY → Watertown, NY → Malone, NY):

 

https://www.bing.com...V=2&form=S00027

 

April 8 (Malone, NY → Champlain, NY → Swanton, VT → Enosburg, VT → Jay, VT → Malone, NY)

 

https://www.bing.com...V=2&form=S00027

 

April 9 (Malone, NY → Watertown, NY → Syracuse, NY → Ithaca, NY)

 

https://www.bing.com...V=2&form=S00027


Edited by Nicole Sharp, 13 April 2024 - 06:16 PM.


#2 pothos

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Posted 13 April 2024 - 07:08 PM

Are you kidding? I sat in 9 hrs of traffic on the way south out of VT on April 8.

#3 Exeligmos

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Posted 13 April 2024 - 07:54 PM

The I-55 traffic south from St. Louis was fine mid-morning. We did get delayed for 30 minutes near Festus, but the jam seemed to be due to a construction zone (with no work being done... what the heck, MDOT?)

 

After the eclipse, I-55 northbound was epically horrific. Fortunately, we were returning to Kansas City, so we could bypass the mess. It did prove to be a bit tricky finding highways in the Ozarks that didn't have St. Louis-bound traffic.



#4 Exeligmos

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Posted 13 April 2024 - 08:00 PM

Additionally, there probably were very few eclipse watchers who had regrets as they sat in traffic. I do feel for the truck drivers who had really bad timing as they were passing through.



#5 Nicole Sharp

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Posted 13 April 2024 - 08:05 PM

Are you kidding? I sat in 9 hrs of traffic on the way south out of VT on April 8.

I left Jay Peak Resort after the partial eclipse ended.  When I called ahead they said that the parking lot was filling up quickly but even at totality, the parking lot was still only half full.  A lot of people left after totality whereas I stayed and waited until after the partial eclipse was over.  There was no traffic at all coming down the mountain or through any of the towns going back to New York from Vermont.  When I arrived in Swanton, there was only one other person at Burger King.

 

https://www.bing.com...V=2&form=S00027

 

Both on the morning of April 8 and on the evening of April 8, I was pretty much the only car on the entire road for long stretches going from Malone to Champlain and vice versa.

 

I was commuting east/west between New York and Vermont though.  I was told that a lot of people went to Newport or Burlington instead of Jay Peak, and that they were coming to Vermont from Massachusetts in the south and not from New York in the west.  However, I still did not see any traffic anywhere in New York from April 7 to April 9, and I drove all the way from Ithaca to Syracuse to Watertown to Plattsburgh and back.

 

When I saw the forecast for Vermont, I did consider trying to cancel the hotel in New York and getting a hotel in Vermont instead for April 8, but the closest hotel I could find was a 2-hour drive from Jay Peak whereas Malone was a 3-hour drive from Jay Peak, and I knew that trying to get home to Maryland from Vermont by going through New York City instead of going through Syracuse might mean more traffic.  Looks like I made the right decision then....


Edited by Nicole Sharp, 13 April 2024 - 08:10 PM.


#6 Nicole Sharp

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Posted 13 April 2024 - 08:13 PM

The I-55 traffic south from St. Louis was fine mid-morning. We did get delayed for 30 minutes near Festus, but the jam seemed to be due to a construction zone (with no work being done... what the heck, MDOT?)

 

After the eclipse, I-55 northbound was epically horrific. Fortunately, we were returning to Kansas City, so we could bypass the mess. It did prove to be a bit tricky finding highways in the Ozarks that didn't have St. Louis-bound traffic.

Ditto.  I didn't see any construction workers in Syracuse either.  I remember they stopped road construction for the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse but it looks like in Syracuse sending all of the work crews home for eclipse weekend still meant keeping one of the lanes closed.  The traffic dissipated quickly once the construction zone was past.



#7 Nicole Sharp

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Posted 13 April 2024 - 08:20 PM

The only unusual thing I saw was what appeared to be a very strong police presence on the Pennsylvania to New York border.  There seemed to be New York police cars all over from the Pennsylvania border to Elmira on April 7, but this ended once north of Ithaca, and I didn't see this coming back on April 9.  I am guessing that the New York police read the same news reports that I did and were preparing for maybe 10 million people heading up to Syracuse and Watertown from destinations south but this seems to not have happened.


Edited by Nicole Sharp, 13 April 2024 - 08:23 PM.


#8 PeteM

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Posted 13 April 2024 - 08:37 PM

I lucked out and changed my viewing site a week before from Uvalde to Dallas. I flew into Houston and drove up to Dallas on Sat...no issues 2.5hr drive. Eclipse day, I soaked the entire event in, taking images and viewing with the family. Driving back to Houston was good from 3:15-4:00pm..then I hit traffic...I finally made it back to Houston around 9pm. About 2.5-3x longer than driving up to Dallas. Traffic was an accordion...mostly 20-30mph with bits of 60-70mph. I chalked it up to the experience and still would do it again.

 

Evidence:

 

IMG_4135.jpg


Edited by PeteM, 13 April 2024 - 09:14 PM.

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#9 The Raptor

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Posted 14 April 2024 - 06:33 PM

We drove from La Crescenta, CA (suburb of LA) to Dallas, almost 3,000 miles round trip, and stayed with friends in Frosco (suburb of Dallas) to see the eclipse through my 8" Meade LX200.  A lot of driving, but well worth it.  A few patchy clouds, but totality was completely clear.  Our 10th solar eclipse (Roundup, MT; Cabo San Lucas; Catalina Island, CA; Aruba; Munich; Puerto Vallarta; St. George, UT; Salem, OR; Richfield, UT; and Frisco, TX).  


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#10 natureboy2024

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Posted 15 April 2024 - 07:20 PM

I watched in Lake Placid, NY. Heading up traffic was pretty light. Trailheads in Keene Valley were pretty crowded with early arrivals heading up for peak views of the event.

Got on the road about 30 minutes after totality ended. Not too much traffic near town, but volume built and then slowed to a crawl for the next hour (to cover ~ 15-20 miles). Stopped for dinner before reaching the Northway / I-87. When I started south again Google maps took me on a very funky detour. I ended up on a (2nd class?) county route that was laid out like a sidewinder - straightaway for 40 seconds to sharp curve to right followed by sharp curve to left. Uphill. Downhill...etc. Fortunately no deer and not many other cars. Then I took a route into Troy that I didn't even know existed before.

 

Overall, time to complete the return trip was about double a 'typical' day. I think the folks on I-87 had it worse, though.



#11 lewdwig

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Posted 15 April 2024 - 07:41 PM

Watched in San Saba, TX; stayed in Brady, TX.  Traffic was light on Tuesday morning leaving Brady until the vicinity of San Antonio on I-10.



#12 gjanke

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Posted 15 April 2024 - 08:44 PM

I too hail from Maryland. However, I went a different route. Got up the morning of the 8th drove through early rush hour traffic for about forty five minutes. Got to the airport around 7am, flew to Cleveland. Hung out at the airport and watched totality from the top of the parking garage at the airport. After totality went back into the airport, grabbed a bite to eat and watched the rest of the eclipse through the airport skylights on concourse C. Got back on a plane at 6 pm and was at home by 8:15 pm. Traffic was never an issue.

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#13 zizzapnia

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Posted 15 April 2024 - 09:04 PM

We viewed it from near Conneaut, Ohio, just over the line from Pennsylvania near Lake Erie. Traffic wasn't at all bad except I-79 south from Erie to Pittsburgh right after the eclipse. Some of my relatives left half an hour after totality and traffic was creeping or heavy the whole way. Took them over twice the normal time.



#14 Katharine

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Posted 15 April 2024 - 09:43 PM

DFW to Sulphur Springs on the 7th... no issues.  Sulphur Springs to DFW on the 9th... no issues.  (I had actually changed my flight to a later one and planned at least 5 hours for the drive back to the airport... completely unneeded.)  Any traffic I encountered, I suspect was normal for the area.  No issues getting around Sulphur Springs, no issues leaving the park where I was viewing after the eclipse (probably helped that I stayed to the end of the partial phase).  All I can think is that all of the warnings I'd heard/read about Dallas traffic referred to rush hour, which I avoided.



#15 Napp

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Posted 15 April 2024 - 10:36 PM

Watched the eclipse from north of Little Rock, Arkansas.  I departed a couple hours after the eclipse ended.  No real traffic issues until 14 miles before Memphis.  It took about three hours to get to the other side of the Mississippi River.  I can’t blame everything on the eclipse as there were lane closures on the bridge due to construction.



#16 Larry Mc

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Posted 15 April 2024 - 10:51 PM

We were in Erie, PA for the Eclipse and stayed overnight Monday.

On the drive back mid-morning Tuesday (~10am), the southbound traffic on I79 towards Pittsburgh was moderate to heavy at times, starting right outside of Erie, past I80, nearly all the way to the Zelienople exit. (about ~130 miles). Lots of RV's heading south slowing down and congesting the traffic in spots.

Couldn't really drive using cruise-control for very far until you had to tap the brakes. We pulled in to the rest-stop past Grove City and could barely find a open spot to park. 

 

Once back home that afternoon, we stopped over at our neighbors who were collecting our mail while we were gone, and they shared this photo from a relative who visited them in Pittsburgh on Monday afternoon around 1pm. 

 

Erie-Inbound-Traffic-1pm-04082024.jpg

 

A family friend driving up from Pittsburgh said that they were stuck in that traffic, bumper to bumper going 4 MPH. They bailed off I79 at Cranberry and took the back roads into Ohio and made it into the path of totality just in time.

I'm glad we drove up to Erie several days before the eclipse!!

 

 



#17 CowTipton

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 10:23 AM

From my home in the NW Chicago burbs to Lebanon, IN:

Normal driving time 2hrs40mins.

Actual driving time 5hrs30mins.

 

Driving home from Indianapolis Zoo:

Normal driving time 3hrs15mins

Actual driving time 5hrs30mins

 

 

Worth it?

1000% yes.  It was spectacular.



#18 JoeInMN

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Posted 18 April 2024 - 08:00 PM

I stayed Sunday and Monday nights at a Best Western in Ogleby, IL, a bit more than halfway between Minneapolis and the centerline, and watched the eclipse from the Rend Lake Rest Area a few miles north of Benton. On the way back up to Oglesby afterwards I ran into a few lengthy stretches of stop-n-go, nothing unexpected. I had a tote bag full of snacks, and satellite radio in the rented car, so I just relaxed.

 

240408_eclipse_aftermath_001_1000.jpg



#19 fjjoachim

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Posted 20 April 2024 - 04:03 PM

I can relate. My wife and I went down to the Indianapolis area (Jasper, IN) for the eclipse. No traffic going to Indy, since we travelled the Friday before. But coming home the day after was a total mess. This trip would normally take 7 hours, but it took us over 12 hours. My arthritic back is still hurting!





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