No longer considered a sign of the apocalypse, the most ominous predictions for the August 21 total solar eclipse are Woodstock like traffic jams. Oregon is ground zero for the phenomenon, where Lincoln Beach will be the first point of contact at 9:06 am PDT. HERE is helping Oregon and other state departments of transportation (DOT) in or near the "path of totality" manage the expected throngs with real-time traffic data.
For the first time in 39 years, a total eclipse of the sun will be viewable in the US. The path of this totality is a 70-mile wide stretch from Oregon to South Carolina where the moon will completely cover the visible circle of the sun.
Skywatchers in these areas can potentially experience the total eclipse for more than two minutes. A partial eclipse will be visible to the rest of the contiguous US, as it travels for about an hour and a half, ending near Charleston, South Carolina at approximately 2:48 pm EDT.
Epic eclipse traffic
Oregon DOT (ODOT) believes the eclipse will cause the biggest traffic event in state history. They’re planning for as many as 1 million people in the path of totality. In conjunction with other state agencies and emergency management services, ODOT will run a 24-hour command center type of operation and have public information officials on the ground.
ODOT has been using HERE historical traffic data across the state to conduct before and after studies, track bottlenecks and more. To help the agency manage this extraordinary event, HERE has additionally enabled its live traffic data for the weeks around the eclipse.
For example, real-time information will allow ODOT to compare current speeds to the free flow speed and average range. The resulting insight will show where current traffic is significantly more congested than a typical pattern.
With the support of Iteris’s iPeMS application, ODOT has defined over 80 routes to monitor during the eclipse, which will be watched closely to track changes in travel times.
Public information officials on the ground will also have access to the real-time data. Drivers can stay informed via tripcheck.com, Oregon's website for travelers powered by HERE data, or via ODOT's social channels. ODOT also uses HERE traffic data to calculate travel times, which will be displayed on digital road signs at critical junctions across the state.
To proactively mitigate traffic, ODOT is pausing most road construction projects and asking people to arrive early, stay in one place and leave later. Officials are warning drivers to be properly supplied at all times with food, water, and fuel and are cautioning that cell phone towers may be jammed at certain times.
HERE reminds drivers that the HERE Wego app works on and offline, so eclipse buffs can download maps of Oregon ahead of time.
Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT)
HERE provides historical and real time traffic data to other state DOTs in the path of totality, many of which are also preparing for the eclipse with increased measures.
In Missouri, MoDOT is upping public communication, providing viewing location tips, suspending work zones and warning people what not to do (such as not to park on I-70). The agency has integrated HERE traffic data into many of its everyday operations including work zones, incident management, traffic management center and traveler resources.
The eclipse will cross Missouri from approximately 1:08 pm CDT to 1:23 CDT. Those in the center of the state will enjoy the most time of totality, St. Joseph on the Missouri River 2 minutes and 38 seconds; Marshall, Boonville and Columbia over 2 minutes and 30 seconds. St. Louis residents will have better a better view if they head south to Festus.
MoDOT, along with all state agencies involved in the incident command structure, has been working closely with the State Emergency Management Agency. A statewide plan for dynamic message signs was put in place for the two weeks leading up to and day of the eclipse to keep travelers informed.
Since the eclipse will pass over some rural areas without access to ITS devices, traffic management centers are using portable message boards on these routes and adding resources to constantly monitor traffic through cameras (where they are present) and through the HERE traffic data layer at our advanced transportation management center.
MoDOT uses HERE traffic on their travel information website and encourages travelers to utilize this resource to avoid delays.
North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)
North Carolina's DOT has been taking additional steps to spread situational awareness of traffic around the eclipse. The agency is anticipating a large increase in traffic in the best viewing locations — many of which are remote and include smaller roads that don’t typically handle many vehicles nor do they have cameras or traffic count sensors.
To overcome these temporary challenges, NCDOT has added new users to traffic management applications, powered by HERE traffic data, which will allow users to review real-time traffic congestion, even on the smallest roads in real time.
Want to know more about the eclipse? NASA answers all your questions.