Author Topic: Eclipse traffic horror stories?  (Read 441 times)

ceplinglittfi

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Re: Eclipse traffic horror stories?
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2018, 02:12:47 AM »
Observed the eclipse from just north of Douglas, Wyoming on Wyoming 59. Left immediately after totality... very light traffic up to Gillette WY... no traffic whatsoever after that all the way to the Canadian border... Douglas to West Poplar SK (border crossing) in eight hours flat.

Greg Quevedo

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Re: Eclipse traffic horror stories?
« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2018, 02:13:25 AM »
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Five hours to go from Santee, SC to Fayetteville, NC averaging 30-35 mph in stop and go traffic. After Fayetteville, pretty good speed with heavy traffic to Emporia, VA.9.5 hours to get back to Virginia Beach compared to 6.5 hours going down on Sunday. We were amazed by the number of NJ plates compared to any other states. It seemed like NJ plates outnumbered all of the other states combined.

I also noted a surplus of Joisey plates. The entire population must have left the state!

Jovan Corcoran

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Re: Eclipse traffic horror stories?
« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2018, 03:49:24 AM »
A trip that normally takes us 4.5 hours took more than ten hours of absolute bumper to bumper and included a three hour stretch where we moved less than four miles.  Would have been really bad, but the amazing event we got to see was absolutely worth it in every way!
Matt

buckfeedssapfai

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Re: Eclipse traffic horror stories?
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2018, 05:05:41 AM »
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My sister-in-law drove down from the Milwaukee area to where we were set up to observe the eclipse. About 40 miles SW of St. Louis. The drive down took her the normal 5 1/2 hours. Against our advice she decided to drive back right after the eclipse, leaving around 2:30. She did not make it back until nearly 2am! Besides the bad traffic she ran into: Gas stations empty of all but premium fuel (huge lines to fill up). An Arby's that had run out of meat. A McDonalds that took her 30 minutes to get to the restroom. Two big thunder boomers. Traffic reports that indicated all clear ahead (several times she could have taken an alternate) but were totally wrong. Numerous fender benders and stalled vehicles.


Still better than trying to evacuate Houston during Rita. None of my neighbors (nor my wife and kids) made it out of the "mandatory evacuation zone" with several days notice...well not for the "mandatory", stupid declaration came way too late--a farworse evacuation performance than New Orleans the month before. It wasdue to ineptitude by the state of Texas. We planned for no gas, but Texas couldn't figure out how to control the roads to let cars out and the governor's office had no idea how to manage an evacuation ( = no fuel for refill.) They were over 24 hours too late in figuring out how to make contraflow work and never did control intersectionsleading out of theevacuation zone.They never even anticipatedstalled vehicles from lack of gas...well, theoretically they did, but nobody from the governor's office had the assignment of requesting national guard help, so the fuel trucks sat idle. So we weathered the storm in Houston with a full tank of gas remaining in one vehicle after expending too much of the fuel in the other. I had neighbors who after two days were still on the highway when the storm hit--worst place to be. Another had back injuries from sitting in the car forseveral straight days. The others returned to the neighborhood after a day on the road and weathered the storm which, thankfully, mostly missed us at the end.

We moved out of Houston after that. As I have said ever since, "Happiness is Houston in the rear view mirror!"

With an understanding that evacuation traffic levels would be a given following the eclipse, I gassed up when I arrived on Saturday. I prepared lunch for in the truck ahead of time. I ran side roads part of the way and would have run dirt roads had I planned more carefully. And I didn't leave the interstate even for bathroom breaks until we cleared the bottlenecks(tookabout an hour to get on the interstate in the first place.) The shoulder worked for pit stops...didn't even lose more than a few spaces in line.

The boneheaded parts were the two single lane construction zones on I-5 in northern California. What moron didn't see this coming years in advance? They were actively closing lanes for routine resurfacing during evacuation level traffic for an event predicted well in advance. Some overpaididiot needs to be fired for extreme levels of incompetence. To be fair, the worst delays I had were in Oregon and were due to traffic volume rather than basic ineptitude displayedin the California stretches, but the latter were inexcusably stupidand entirely preventable.

Getting out took a long time, but not really longer than I anticipated. It was the stupid, self-inflicted bottlenecks in California that really torqued me. However, I realized that I was dealing with 1 lane out on the way in...which is why I left before the end of the eclipse to "rush" for the bottleneck I knew about.

Darkz Tousa

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Re: Eclipse traffic horror stories?
« Reply #19 on: January 17, 2018, 08:22:49 AM »
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Anyone have a story to tell?

My sister-in-law drove down from the Milwaukee area to where we were set up to observe the eclipse. About 40 miles SW of St. Louis. The drive down took her the normal 5 1/2 hours. Against our advice she decided to drive back right after the eclipse, leaving around 2:30. She did not make it back until nearly 2am! Besides the bad traffic she ran into: Gas stations empty of all but premium fuel (huge lines to fill up). An Arby's that had run out of meat. A McDonalds that took her 30 minutes to get to the restroom. Two big thunder boomers. Traffic reports that indicated all clear ahead (several times she could have taken an alternate) but were totally wrong. Numerous fender benders and stalled vehicles.

The good part of this....she said seeing the eclipse (her first) was worth every hour spent in traffic. That's what I like to hear.

We rolled out of Twin Falls Idaho just before 2am, headed east. We were almost the only vehicles on the roads which were pitch black save for the occasional small town with the highways routed through its center. We had a quick look at Howe, then drove on to our initial site target, Terreton.

Plan A was to snag the south boat ramp parking area (with its toilet) on Mud Lake just north up a dirt road off the highway through Terreton. We miscalculated and took the dirt road up the levy opposite the canal and the road we wanted, and notices several vehicles on the correct road parked and facing out, not in. This suggested that the boat parking area was already taken and others had gone up and had to turn around.

We then quickly went to Plan B and headed (quickly) to the federal wildlife preserve outside of Hamer, the Camas National Wildlife Refuge. God bless the Feds. They were organized. We lined up in a queue of cars at the main gate, which was blocked with a backhoe until sunrise. Reserve employees from all over the country had been flown in to help with the event. We were vehicles numbers 12 and 13 in the line. They had porta pottis set up all along the reserve roadways and took groups of vehicles to different branches of the roads to park them nose to tail along the roadway. Reserve workers rode quads. We were greeted and kept frequently informed of "next steps" as they led us and directed the parking. It was precision. They were well-prepared. We had a great, great spot with a tree lined field full of colorful song birds, raptors and the occasional elk to our backs (to the west) and a wide open view of the entirety of the ecliptic to our south. At this point we were figuring "piece of cake".

However, after the event rather than 3 hours that it had taken us to get to the site, it took us 5.5 hours to backtrack the same route to Twin Falls. There were long stretches of stopped traffic as some little towns along intersections engaged in traffic control at intersections to balance N-S and E-W eclipse traffic. Many RVs failed to predict the low mpg of so much stop and go, and were forced to (try) to gas up at the little two-pump stations along the route. Several stations ran out of fuel. To make matters worse, pretty obviously many of the drivers were from places (like Idaho) where they never really encounter gridlock, and foolishly would continue to peek their vehicles (trucks of course) out into oncoming traffic (which was moving at speed limit or above) to "have a look up that ta see if they could see what was causin' the slowdown". Almost causing more than one accident.

It was so bad in one town that locals getting off work could not get from the east or west side of town to the other because highway traffic was gridlocked and did not have any stoplights or stop signs, and the towns didn't have resources for police traffic control. We took pity and let dozens of locals go E-W each time we saw them waiting, to lots of angry honks from behind us. No doubt from the same sorts who are traffic etiquette ignorant. In their trucks, of course. (Nothing against trucks. I drive one. But the biggest tools we say in terms of bonehead highway moves and rudeness were all in pickup trucks. There's some kind of funny correlation there, I'm sure.

So what should have been a 6 hour total driving day turned into an 8.5 hour slog. Overall not too bad, really, given that I drive two hours a day weekdays in gridlock on my 21 mile each way commute to and from work.

The trip home to California from Twin Falls yesterday was smooth and at the limit most of the way. I beat the projected time by almost two hours.

- Jim

Doug Woods

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Re: Eclipse traffic horror stories?
« Reply #20 on: January 18, 2018, 12:00:07 AM »
Already posted my Casper traffic report over here:

https://www.cloudyni...ipse/?p=8062470

David Williams

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Re: Eclipse traffic horror stories?
« Reply #21 on: January 18, 2018, 07:15:03 AM »
Boise to the Payette Idaho at 7am there was NO traffic. We went the back way through Emmett Idaho

ON the way back, about 1 hr after the totality there was stoppage in Emmett, and 25mph traffic from Emmett to State Street (HWY 44)

We made the 50min drive back in 1 1/2 hrs.

Not too bad. The hyperventilating media predicted 20,000 to 60,000 people in Weiser ID. 1500 showed up.

Kenneth Naim

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Re: Eclipse traffic horror stories?
« Reply #22 on: January 18, 2018, 08:23:12 AM »
It took the usual ~2 hours to go the ~90-95 miles west from Asheville, NC, to Andrews, NC, on Sunday afternoon. It's all 4-lane to Almond, about 25 miles short of Andrews. Then it turns in a snaky 2-lane thru Nantahala Gorge, a major white-water rafting scene. Like I said, not bad going out. Camping and observing on the centerline at Andrews Middle School.

Coming back was a whole 'nother story.... the 4 lane bypass around Andrews narrows to 2 lanes right by my observing site. I watched the jam-up develop well before the eclipse was over, and keep growing. I ate supper about 5, and waited until 6. By then, traffic was (seemed to be) flowing fine, so I set out for the drive east. Caught the tail end of the constipated snake stop 'n' go about 8 miles later. Pulled off, waited 15 minutes, started out again. Caught the snake not even five miles later. Parked (I was driving my camper, so had a couch, book, and genny-powered A/C in back). Waited 1/2 hour, caught up to the snake almost immediately. Parked for another 1/2 hour, still on the two-lane. Parked for an hour, it cleared out, went on.

Ahhh... 4-lane and moving, finally!!! Went about 20 miles, and caught the dam' jam again! Crept and crawled to an exit, found a shopping plaza, read for an hour, could see the still-jammed 4 lane from where I was parked. Went to sleep for over an hour. Now it's almost midnight. The 4 lane looked, and was, finally clear!

I was able to get home about 1 AM.

So seven hours to go about 90 miles. Totally worth it!!!

Jim H.

steviselath

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Re: Eclipse traffic horror stories?
« Reply #23 on: January 20, 2018, 02:36:00 PM »
I was south of Jim near Terreton Idaho in a farmer's field. We left a half hour after totality ended. The first 10 miles back to I-15 took an hour and they were directing traffic at Sage Jct, but once we got on I-15 the flow northbound was great. At times you could see at least 100 vehicles going north, without a single car going south. There was one bottleneck in MT due to construction, but my brother called ahead and I took a frontage road and passed about 8 miles of cars. 3 hours down, 4 hours back. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

ceisilipan

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Re: Eclipse traffic horror stories?
« Reply #24 on: January 21, 2018, 05:49:29 AM »
Four hours smooth driving to clear skies, a picnic table under a shade tree, and no crowding. It was a six hour drive back but that was due to some exploring along the way.

To brag, my traffic strategy worked perfectly; we drove parallel to the path of totality until we were as far west as Clear Sky Charts predicted a fair chance of clear sky and then drove northinto the path of totality on state roads avoiding the interstates completely. I saw a couple of out-of-state vehicles with families which I suppose were there for the eclipse and we encountered a handful of non-resident eclipse viewers at our location. Clouds were gathering at first but after the partial reached about 30% the skies became crystal clear.

Jerome Fountain

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Re: Eclipse traffic horror stories?
« Reply #25 on: January 23, 2018, 02:57:30 PM »
I had all of 5 minutes of traffic climbing the grade out of Prineville on the way home. Today the news here in Bend is talking about all the extra food the grocery stores are stuck with because the people didn't show up in the numbers that they expected.
    I personally couldn't get my wife to ride an hour north with me to see a once in a lifetime event!  Down in Monterey where I fish, lots of friends I talked to either didn't know or didn't care about the eclipse....unbelievable! Any how, I don't understand how people passed this up but it gives me hope that maybe Texas won't be so bad in seven years.

Jeff Ramirez

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Re: Eclipse traffic horror stories?
« Reply #26 on: January 31, 2018, 10:02:34 AM »
Not necessarily a car traffic story, but the amount of people on my college campus was definitely inconvenient while trying to run from class to class all over campus. After class, I volunteered at the college observatory where I work with my astronomy professor. I was mainly responsible to letting people borrow viewing glasses and making sure nobody was looking up without them (which way too many people tried to do, did wonders for my anxiety lol). The amount of people who came was very overwhelming. While was great to see so many people interested in the eclipse, we ended up losing a lot of viewing glasses because a lot of people would steal them instead of returning them so towards the end of our event we didn't have enough to go around and people tended to swarm around us waiting for one to be free to borrow

gimartutin

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Re: Eclipse traffic horror stories?
« Reply #27 on: February 02, 2018, 03:48:48 PM »
It too me roughly 4 hours to get from Nashville IN down IN 135 which turns into KY 79 to Russellville and ran into a little slow traffic, but nothing terrible. On the way back it took about 6.5 hours, but then a half hour of that was dinner in Brandenburg KY. I did run into some stoppages and slowness. I had to take back roads to get to 79 from the city park because US 68 was a parking lot coming from Hopkinsville going toward Bowling Green.

James Przystup

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Re: Eclipse traffic horror stories?
« Reply #28 on: February 02, 2018, 06:16:34 PM »
9 hours and 410 miles (took several detours around traffic jams) from Mitchell, OR to Seattle, then a redeye to the East Coast. The worst traffic was on Rt. 97 at the Columbia River crossing.

Ryan Hernandez

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Re: Eclipse traffic horror stories?
« Reply #29 on: February 02, 2018, 07:28:18 PM »
I just want to note that since the path of totality in 2024 is SW-NE through the US (and Mexico), it might behoove those who will be traveling by road to see it (at least in the US) I'd recommend that you begin lobbying the affected state governments in its path to suspend and road work on that day (aside from true emergency work) and or make other allowances for the enormous amount of concentrated traffic.

We have seven years to make sure we don't have another debacle like this time. And to be clear... It won't affect me either way. I live in its path and will be viewing (and imaging) from my home or within waling distance, so this post is for the benefit of those of you who *will be driving to it, not mine. I won't be chasing the longest totality and traveling to Nazas. If you're anything like me, driving a N hour trip in ~2N hours isn't a very happy thing, especially when much of that 2nd N is due to DOT mismanagement