Solar Eclipse brings traffic and long lines

Medford, Ore. — With thousands of people from all over the west coast making their way into Oregon for the solar eclipse. Traffic is getting heavier, and lines for gas are just getting longer. If you want to make the best of your eclipse experience, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) said you need to be at your destination at least by Sunday night.

You may have noticed, things are a little different around the Rogue Valley. The streets you take each day are now packed with more cars and faces, and the gas pumps you’re used to filling up with are now paired with massive lines and wait times.

Welcome to the lead up to Solar Eclipse 2017.

“Because of the high summer volume of traffic and then add the eclipse to it – people need to be ready when they travel,” said Gary Leaming, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).

That means making sure the tank is full and the car is in good shape to make the trek to your destination.

“We have seen some people on the road already who have been ill-prepared. They’ve run out of gas, they’ve broke down,” he said.

Which is whyODOT is urging people to be prepared. Any interruptions on the roadway can slowly add to traffic times.

“Be ready for that usual three-hour drive, to maybe be six hours,” he said.

An example? Take Thursday’s I-5 roadside fire between Grants Pass and Medford.

“That’s a microcosm of what could happen if we get an incident,” he said.

ODOT said the fire immediately caused a ten-mile backup.

“It all gets back to this personal responsibility. This is a great event but don’t wait until the last minute to get in the car and try to cram it in at the last minute,” he said.

ODOT said this is new to everyone. No one knows how Monday morning will play out, but in order for everyone to have a good experience, it’s a team effort.

“Just know that we’re all in it together. We’re trying to do our part, but I think the public who are viewing the eclipse need to do theirs,” he said.

The Oregon Department of Forestry said it’s extremely important to be aware of fire safety during the eclipse. If you’re part of the traffic this weekend – ODOT asks that if you see an emergency vehicle trying to get by – let them through. It could be the difference between life or death.

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