Visitors Urged to Prepare for Eclipse
By West Kentucky Star Staff
PADUCAH, KY - With three weeks to go before the total solar eclipse, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet officials are urging anyone who plans to travel to western Kentucky to make plans now before making the trip.

The appeal comes as traffic engineers and police agencies prepare for up to 500,000 visitors flocking to 10 Kentucky counties along center line of the eclipse corridor.

“We want visitors to come and take in this once-in-a-lifetime event, but we also want them to be prepared for issues that a mass migration of people may create,” said Wade Clements, KYTC chief engineer.

Listed among the nation's Top 10 eclipse viewing sites along the path, the Hopkinsville area already boasts visitors from 16 countries and 34 states on the guest list. 

Clements said the best approach for visitors is to come early, select a specific viewing area, be prepared to stay put, and be willing to hang around until the initial wave of departing traffic clears.

Eclipse chasers are expected to start arriving in the area around Friday, Aug. 18, then continue to filter in with a final surge on the morning of the eclipse on the 21st. The partial eclipse will begin around noon, and the total solar eclipse, 1:20 p.m., will last about 2.5 minutes. 

“We anticipate heavy traffic starting the Saturday before the eclipse, maybe sooner,” said Clements. “On the morning of the eclipse, we anticipate a surge of people driving in just for the day and another surge right after the eclipse as people who have driven in for the day head home. That departing traffic could last well into the evening hours. We also anticipate a final surge of traffic during the day on Tuesday, as visitors who are camping or staying the night in a hotel start to leave the area.”

Officials offer the following tips for eclipse visitors in preparation for their celestial experience:
- Be prepared for hot weather. Temps in mid-to-late August can be in the 90s.
- Bring plenty of water – about a gallon a day per person.
- Bring sun screen, insect repellant, and first aid items.
- Bring picnic or snack items. Restaurants and grocery stores may experience long lines.
- Pick a viewing location with rest rooms and easy access to restaurants or other source of food.
- Do not stop along highways. Vehicles on the shoulder hinder traffic flow and create a traffic hazard.
- Be prepared for long lines at fuel pumps. Access to fuel may be limited.
- Be aware that heavy traffic congestion may interfere with delivery of food, fuel and other supplies along the total eclipse corridor.
- Be careful – while local agencies are gearing up for large crowds, heavy traffic may hinder the ability of emergency agencies to respond.
- Bring a GPS-based navigation unit, as cell phone navigation may be sketchy due to heavy cell and data traffic.
- If your group is traveling in several vehicles, consider communicating with two-way radios as cell service may be limited due to heavy demand.

Traffic along Interstate 24 and Interstate 69, as well as along the Pennyrile Parkway and the U.S. 68/KY 80 corridor, is expected to be especially congested before, during and after the eclipse.

Clements noted that all of the agencies planning for the eclipse want visitors to have a safe and positive experience so they’ll come back when the area isn’t quite so crowded.

Published 06:33 PM, Monday Jul. 31, 2017
Updated 11:24 AM, Tuesday Aug. 01, 2017

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