Seven hours after Oregon’s first total solar eclipse in 38 years, several roads around the state remained snarled as eclipse viewers headed home.
Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Dave Thompson said it appeared the worst-case scenarios the state had planned for did not materialize. Thompson said ODOT planned for as many as 1 million out-of-state visitors flooding into Oregon, primarily Monday morning, then turning around and heading for home the same day.
Thompson said although ODOT has not attempted to estimate how many people visited Oregon by car Monday, slowing and congestion has been less severe than feared.
There were few crashes in areas that saw heavy eclipse traffic, Thompson said, and those that have occurred have been low-speed incidents that did not result in injuries or blocked travel lanes.
In Central Oregon, some highways remained unusually congested Monday afternoon. Heavy southbound traffic was reported by ODOT on U.S. Highway 97 at Lava Butte, near Sunriver, at the Peter Skene Ogden Scenic Wayside between Redmond and Madras, and at Juniper Butte just south of Culver.
The Tripcheck website run by ODOT provided real-time traffic information to eclipse travelers throughout the day. The site has recently added a new feature that uses the “pings” of passing cellphones to estimate traffic speeds on highways, and assigns a green, yellow, orange or red rating to assess how freely traffic is flowing. Places where traffic is moving at least 85 percent of average speeds are rated as green, while places where traffic has slowed to 40 percent or less of average speeds are rated red.
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