ITD: 160,000 drove to Idaho for total solar eclipse

The actual numbers fell short of some predictions.

How many people would you guess drove into the Gem State to witness Monday’s total solar eclipse? The best estimate from the Idaho Transportation Department is 160,000.

“As a department in partnership with so many other state agencies we were prepared,” Vince Trimboli with ITD said.

Months of planning that paid off. Trimboli says fears like, people running out of gas, major crashes, and hours upon hours of traffic, just didn’t’ happen.

“They did make good choices, they were prepared, they were safe, they were patient, and it showed up in the end,” Trimboli said.

One tool to help with that congestion was the traffic counters. A web page ITD put up to give people an idea on where others were going. It’s a page that received nearly a 100,000 views over the course of the eclipse weekend.

“Hopefully, what we think happened, happened, is it kind of spread the traffic out and instead of everybody being in one spot, they were able to come home from different directions,” Trimboli said.

One thing is for certain: people were coming into the state. ITD says from Thursday, August 17th through Monday the 21st, there were about 70,000 more cars coming into Idaho than there was during the same stretch in 2016.

“We estimate about 2.5 people in each car and we came up with about 160,000 visitors,” Trimboli said. “That's a significant increase to our state's transportation system.”

Greatamericaneclipse.com estimated as many as 370,000 visitors would drive to Idaho for the eclipse; more if you count air travelers.

ITD’s number does not include anyone who flew into the state. Boise Airport spokesman Sean Briggs says they won’t have exact numbers from the airlines until September, but added there were more than 5,500 hundred people that passed through security on Monday, which is average, and more than 6,400 on Tuesday, which is above average.

Carrie Westergard with the Boise Visitors and Convention Bureau also says every rental car was booked.

“A pre poll that we did prior to the eclipse showed that most of our hotels were full or had very limited availability and all of our rental cars were booked,” Westergard said.

Westergard says there’s more than 6,000 hotels in the Boise area. She added many of those who did come to the Gem State for the eclipse stayed for the weekend.

“Having an event that happens to fall right near a weekend for Boise ended up being a big deal,” Westergard said.

The Idaho Department of Commerce says it’s still too early to assess the overall impact the eclipse had on Idaho’s economy because lodging fees won’t be finalized for several more months.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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