Eclipse weekend: Idaho towns ready and waiting

The festival is taking place all weekend in Memorial Park in Weiser, Idaho - culminating with a viewing party on Monday, during the total solar eclipse.

BOISE - Two days before the total solar eclipse, communities around Idaho have not reported significant emergencies or major traffic issues related to an expected influx of visitors.

The Weiser Eclipse Festival, which began Thursday evening, welcomed a steady stream of visitors.

"We have people already from all over the world that are traveling in, and it's awesome to be able to share Weiser with them," said Patrick Nauman, chairman of the Weiser Eclipse Festival.

Bigger crowds are expected Saturday night, Sunday, and Monday.

On Saturday, the Idaho Transportation Department reported a year-over-year increase in traffic, with a large number of cars and trucks moving toward or within the path of totality, but significantly fewer leaving those areas.

Data posted shortly after noon Saturday show a 13-percent increase on the Banks-Lowman Highway in Boise County, an 11-percent increase on Interstate 84 west of Caldwell, and a 7-percent increase on U.S. 95 at Fruitland – where drivers from the Treasure Valley would turn to head toward Weiser.

On Idaho 55, traffic was up by 4 percent in Eagle, and down by 4 percent in Banks.

On Idaho 21, traffic was up by 17 percent at Robie Creek, on the way from Boise to Idaho City, which is in the eclipse’s path of totality.

Shortly after 2 p.m. Saturday, a viewer in Idaho City sent an email to KTVB, saying “no traffic, so far. A 50-minute drive (from Boise). Most parking is free or $10 per car for Little League and Outdoor Ed school fundraisers. We still have glasses!”

ITD reported a 20-percent increase on Idaho highway 75 north of Shoshone, and a 6-percent increase on Idaho 75 north of Hailey. Traffic was up by 53 percent on U.S. 93 near Craters of the Moon.

Heavier traffic is expected on Sunday and Monday. ITD’s 511 road report website already has warnings posted, advising drivers to expect “delays of uncertain duration” at about 11:45 a.m. Monday – immediately after the eclipse - and possibly continuing until 5 p.m. Tuesday.

ITD will restrict oversized loads starting Sunday through Tuesday on interstates and state highways south of Lewiston. This is for loads more than ten feet wide and more than 100 feet long.

Officials in Malheur County, Oregon, were anticipating heavier traffic late Saturday.

Three people were reported injured in a plane crash Saturday afternoon near Lowman, in Boise County, but it is not known how severe the injuries are, or if the plane was in the area because of the eclipse.

Link: ITD solar eclipse traffic counts

Related story: Eclipse glasses sold out almost everywhere around the valley

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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