The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has been preparing for the influx of heavy traffic throughout the state as visitors come to view the eclipse.
Traffic Operations Engineer for MoDOT’s Northwest District Jose Rodriguez, St. Joseph, stated his office was told by officials to expect anywhere from 50,000 to half a million visitors to the town.
Rodriguez stated the department plans to utilize all employees including maintenance, construction and design staff to optimize safety. MoDOT employees will be stationed at intersections, helping to direct and monitor traffic flow as early as the Friday before the eclipse.
As well as locals, MoDOT employees from Maryville, Bethany, Chillicothe and other locations are being asked to volunteer to work in St. Joseph for the event.
“When they work an eight-hour shift and then have drive time on top of that, it makes for a really long day for our employees. We want them to be alert as possible. We will try to use as many local employees as possible,” Rodriguez said.
As of now, the Maryville and Clearmont maintenance MoDOT barn crews have not been called to assist with the traffic the eclipse will bring to St. Joseph. Instead, the crews are planning to perform regular duties within the county.
Rodriguez did say that St. Joseph would be using some of their equipment including signs and channeling devices which include signaling cones and flashers.
A few employees within the Maryville MoDOT construction department answered the call asking for volunteers to spend their work day helping in St. Joseph.
Nodaway County could see heavier traffic than normal as motorists travel south toward St. Joseph for the event.
State MoDOT officials released the following traffic tips for anyone planning to travel major roadways to view the eclipse:
• Plan ahead and allow extra travel time to reach your viewing location.
• Do not stop along the interstate or park on the shoulder.
• Please exit the highway to stop, view or photograph the solar eclipse.
• Do not take photographs while driving.
• Turn your headlights on and do not rely on your automatic headlights.
• Do not wear eclipse glasses while you’re driving.
• Avoid travel during the eclipse or in the area of the main path if you can.
• If you have a minor crash on the eclipse day, please exit the highway to exchange insurance information. Missouri law requires vehicles to get out of the driving lanes when involved in a minor crash with no injuries.
• Watch out for extra pedestrians along smaller roads. People may be randomly parking and walking alongside roads in the hour before the total eclipse to get the best view.
• Prepare for extreme congestion after the eclipse and consider staying at your viewing location to avoid the heavy amounts of exiting traffic.
• Check traffic conditions on MoDOT’s Traveler Information Map at http://traveler.modot.org/map/, or view the information on their free app.