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Oregon Coast Eclipse Traffic Could Be a 'Cosmic Traffic Jam'

Published 06/29/2017 at 8:54 PM PDT - Updated 06/29/2017 at 8:55 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Oregon Coast Eclipse Traffic Could Be 'Cosmic Traffic Jam'

(Oregon Coast) – Officials are predicting some one million extra people will pour into Oregon for the total solar eclipse on August 21, and they think this could well be what they called a “cosmic traffic jam” for many.

It comes down to preparation and paying attention, according to Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).

“ODOT is expecting that many Oregon highways will be especially crowded in the days around the eclipse,” ODOT said in a release. “We ask that, when you’re traveling, you keep your hands on the wheel, your mind on the task, and your eyes on the road - not on the sky.”

Distracted driving is going to be one major issue that police and emergency responders are worried about. ODOT said you can help avoid this by planning your travel well in advance: know where you're going, and know where you'll need to go to for things like food or bathroom breaks.

For the Oregon coast, Lincoln County will be at the center of it all, with the towns of Depoe Bay, Lincoln City, Newport, Waldport and Tillamook County's Neskowin and Pacific City right in the path of totality. It's here where traffic could be the worst in the state, with a smaller, more compact area to deal with and smaller streets and highways than many other parts of Oregon.

ODOT said to expect delays. Traffic backups will be inevitable, so be prepared with supplies like food, cash, gas and more well ahead of time.

Expect traffic changes as well. Normal travel through some areas may be disrupted. Some communities may actually close streets to through traffic or even ban turns at some intersections, especially left turns.

Lincoln County recently published a guide for what you might expect on the central Oregon coast during this unusually heavy period.

“Lincoln County’s population of approximately 46,500 is expected to swell to 115,000+ during the impact period,” county officials said. “It is best to arrive early, come prepared, and have reasonable expectations, given the situation. Once the eclipse begins, you will forget all about the crowds and any small inconveniences it took for you to experience this wondrous event.”

One of the big warnings: do not think “We’ll just pick up what we need when we get there.” Supplies, cash, fuel, and restaurant meals may be limited or have long lines due to high demand.

Both ODOT and Lincoln County are warning cell service may be overwhelmed by so many visitors. Many rural areas already have limited reception, and large crowds are expected in the Oregon coast range forests and deep country roads along the eclipse path.

Having emergency and first aid kits is also essential, as it is possible that emergency vehicles may not be able to make it through some traffic jams.

Lincoln County is even urging local residents to refrain from watering their lawns on that day because of the possible strain on public water systems.

Lincoln County is offering text alerts for its towns regarding the eclipse, traffic and other notices. For eclipse information alerts, text LINC4ECLIPSE to 888-777.

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