August 21, CDOT encouraging eclipse watchers to be careful, plan ahead
By Jared Fiel
On Aug. 21, you will have a chance to see a total eclipse of the sun for the first time in our lifetime. And so will several hundred thousand of your closest friends and neighbors. That is why the Colorado Department of Transportation is asking anyone who is planning to drive to Wyoming or Nebraska (both in the “totality” path of the eclipse) to be prepared for a lot of traffic, delays and headaches for this unique event.
Larimer County has set up a great way to stay in touch with traffic, emergency and weather alerts for the event. Just text the word “ECLIPSE” to 888777 and you will get all you need to know. In Colorado, you can also go to www.cotrip.org and in Wyoming, you can go to www.wyoroad.info for real-time traffic updates.
Currently, predictions for attendance in Wyoming and Nebraska are very high. Some experts are predicting up to 600,000 more people cramming into Wyoming to witness this. That’s basically doubling the population of the state. And we know a lot of those folks are going to be coming from the south so all Colorado highways heading there (I-25, US 287, US 85, CO 52, etc.) are expected to be busy.
Since the eclipse is on a Monday, traffic is expected to be heavy through the whole weekend before but will probably be even worse coming back after the sun shines again.
CDOT is partnering with our local first responders and the Colorado State Patrol – as well as our partners at the Wyoming Department of Transportation – to provide some tips on making your eclipse trip something great to remember:
–Pay attention, and don’t drive distracted. Drive defensively because there will be more motorists on the road, and some of them may be slowing down or may not be paying attention when the eclipse is occurring.
–Ensure vehicles have plenty of fuel.
–Don’t stop and pull off onto the side of the roads.
–Don’t use the center median crossings on the interstates for turning around or parking. Those crossings are for authorized vehicles. Emergency vehicles need to keep these areas clear for response to emergency situations.
–Don’t park on any highway shoulder or in any ditch area. That can not only be dangerous for you and other drivers, but a person’s car exhaust could start a grass fire.
–Plan ahead and move to a safe and legal area prior to the eclipse so you can enjoy the experience.
–Use eclipse glasses to safely view the eclipse. These glasses provide eye protection from the eclipse.
–Bring plenty of water, sunscreen and snacks. It is unknown how busy traffic will be, but with hotels and campsites sold out, we are expecting large amounts of traffic surrounding this momentous event. This is also the first day for Colorado State University students and freshman orientation for Colorado University.