TACOMA, Wash. – Drivers heading into Oregon for Monday’s eclipse are already finding big-time traffic jams.
Oregon State Police reported traffic back-ups more than 15 miles long on Thursday.
In Washington, state troopers said eclipse travel traffic is expected to get heavy starting Friday.
Eclipse travelers from Idaho and Canada have already hit the road, police said. That means transportation officials are bracing for a busier-than-normal weekend.
“We really don’t know what to expect,” said WSDOT’s Harmony Weinberg, “We haven’t had this in many, many years.”
Officials said those not making a pilgrimage to Oregon should expect back-ups in the Puget Sound region too.
“You could be inundated with a lot more vehicles,” said Weinberg.
“It’s going to be a disaster with traffic,” said WSP Trooper Shaneka Phillips.
The state patrol has beefed up its staff through the weekend to handle the extra travelers.
Police are reminding drivers to make sure they’re ready before hitting the road.
First, make sure your car is ready for the road – have a mechanic complete an inspection and make sure your gas tank is full.
Also bring extra water, food and activities in the car if drivers get stuck in longer than normal back-ups.
And, don’t rely on your cellphone for navigation – bring paper maps if for some reason your navigation device doesn’t work right.
Lastly - don’t rush, plan to be behind the wheel for longer than usual.
Plus, if you are plan is to leave Oregon on Monday night, troopers suggest you might want to delay your trip back to Washington.
“We encourage people to stay a bit longer if you’re going to be staying out of town,” Phillips said.
Troopers also want to make sure people don’t pull over onto the shoulder to look at the eclipse because first responders are going to need all the room they can get if there’s an emergency.
Also, parking a hot car on top of dry grass or brush poses a wildfire danger.