KGW App users: Tap to view
PRINEVILLE, Ore. -- Traffic jams on U.S. 26 around Prineville eased late Thursday night, according to police,
But that mess was created by people heading to a single eclipse festival. On Friday authorities expect an influx of people headed to destinations throughout Central Oregon.
And this is just the beginning. About 1 million people are projected to visit the state of Oregon to see the total solar eclipse by Monday.
The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office estimated about 30,000 people arrived in Central Oregon Thursday. About 37,000 are expected Friday, 44,000 Saturday, and 43,000 Sunday.
The vast majority of those people are expected to leave Monday and Tuesday.
Traffic headed to the Symbiosis eclipse festival, which began Thursday and is expected to draw 30,000 people, clogged the highway from east of Prineville to the event in the Ochoco National Forest. On Thursday, traffic was backed up for 30 miles.
The long backup led police and the Oregon Department of Transportation to reroute traffic off the highway for several hours on Sunday. The highway was reopened Thursday night as some of the traffic cleared.
"Event coordinators are working fast to get people into the event, and will work all night and into tomorrow to do so. Please be patient, you will be there soon," police said.
Motorists were advised to stay in the their vehicles during traffic delays, and to not drive in wrong lanes of travel.
In Madras, traffic started picking up Thursday, but there were no major issues as of Friday morning. The town of about 6,000 is considered one of the best viewing locations in the nation and is expecting at least 100,000 people to pass through over the next four days.
In Eastern Oregon, Tripcheck slowed some delays Thursday on U.S. 395 from the community of Dale to Middle Fork Lane. Traffic was also heavy at times in the Burns area on 395 and around John Day on 395 and Highway 26.
For months, ODOT has warned that the eclipse would lead to the "biggest traffic event in Oregon history." ODOT recommends travelers leave early, be patient and be prepared.
© 2017 KGW-TV