ITD, ISP prepare for solar eclipse, big impact on traffic

Roads are expected to be very crowded on August 21.

BOISE - In just a little over two months, hundreds of thousands of people plan to come to the Gem State for this summer's total solar eclipse.  Many are flocking to some of Idaho's smallest communities to get the full view of the eclipse.

Agencies like the Idaho Transportation Department and Idaho State Police have been preparing for more than a year for the busy August weekend.

Many of Idaho's roadways are going to be congested that weekend as people make their way into what's called the path of totality.

Agencies like ITD and ISP are asking people to be prepared. For example, on a day like today it may only take a little over an hour to drive from Boise to Garden Valley, but, come August 21st, officials say that drive time could nearly triple.

The Idaho State Police has spent the last year planning for the August 21st weekend.

"The state police we're going to try and put as many people on the street as possible during that period of time. It will be all hands on deck for us," said ISP Capt. John Ganske.

Hundreds of thousands, if not a million people are expected to come into the state for this summer's total solar eclipse.

"Expect delays, expect the resources to be tied up," said Ganske.

The best viewing area is in the path of totality, which goes right through some of Idaho's smallest communities.

"Our roads and our system is just really not built for that many people," said Ganske.

Highways like Idaho 21 up to Stanley, or Idaho 55 on the way to Garden Valley and Cascade.

"These are two-lane highways, in a lot of instances that can get full pretty quick," Bill Kotowski with the Idaho Transportation Department.

This is why the Idaho Transportation Department and Idaho State Police ask people to plan ahead before hitting the road.

"We're encouraging people to put together a 72-hour kit in their vehicle," said Ganske.

'It's a good idea that you have a full tank of gas before you leave. It's a good idea to have extra food and extra water in your car, and just be patient," said Kotowski.

ITD is doing what they can to help alleviate the possibility of traffic jams by ensuring lanes are open.

"In some cases we'll be suspending some construction operations and also maintenance operations," said Kotowski.

Make sure to follow all roadway signs and know where you are parking.

"You know parking on farmland, driving on farmland, you could be subject to trespassing, and of course you could be subject to damaging farmland,” said Ganske.

One of the biggest concerns for state police is that August 21st is right in the heart of fire season.

"We're really concerned about wildland fires. We don't want vehicles to pull to the side or the road or into farm fields to start wildland fires,"

So the best thing is to know where you're going and plan ahead.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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