TDOT prepares for heavy eclipse traffic - WSMV Channel 4

TDOT prepares for heavy eclipse traffic

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Many drivers may wonder how early they will need to leave Monday to get to work or head to a viewing party to watch the total solar eclipse in Middle Tennessee and Kentucky.

Highway officials told News 4 they’ve heard numbers in the hundreds of thousands, maybe even close to a million people heading to the area, and gridlock is on the horizon.

Traffic was already building on Nashville’s interstates and in other cities Friday afternoon.

“Oregon State Patrol, I looked at their social media sites, and they’re experiencing backups on their interstates about 30 miles long already, and some other parts of the interstate are about 15 miles long,” said Lt. Bill Miller, of Tennessee Highway Patrol.

To help move drivers along, the Tennessee Department of Transportation suspended road closures starting Friday through Tuesday.

“It’s very similar to what we do on major holiday weekends during Bonnaroo, CMA festival,” said TDOT spokesperson BJ Doughty. “There’s no reason to have people stuck in construction-related traffic when we’ve got this kind of additional travel going on.”

Come Monday, highway officials said it’s important arrive early to a location and leave a location early after the eclipse.

“Everyone wants to have that prime spot where they can claim their space,” Miller said.

News 4 asked how early drivers should leave.

“It’s really difficult to advise about how much extra time. You know, I think one of the things that we’re worried about is Monday’s rush hour afternoon hour could be not pleasant,” Doughty said.

TDOT help trucks, state troopers and Metro police are all looking for drivers who may need help.

“The police department’s flex units are going to be on standby to respond to any particular emergency scenario,” said Metro police spokesman Don Aaron.

Police are warning drivers to not stop on the interstate or in an emergency lane during the eclipse.

TDOT sent out a map of interstate rest stops along the path as a safe alternative place to watch:

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