Mar 28, 2024 - News

Indianapolis officials issue eclipse traffic warning

Cars lined up in a traffic jam

Traffic stretched for miles in southern Illinois during the 2017 eclipse. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

City officials are preparing residents for unprecedented traffic during the upcoming solar eclipse.

The big picture: Indiana could see as many as 500,000 visitors for the April 8 event, according to state tourism officials, and Indianapolis will be the epicenter.

Why it matters: Cities in the path of totality during 2017's eclipse saw historic traffic jams as eclipse watchers simultaneously attempted to depart after it ended.

  • City officials are urging residents to prepare for the influx of visitors by avoiding travel if possible or planning to arrive at their destinations early and stay late.

How it will work: The eclipse will begin just before 2pm and totality will hit at 3:06pm, plunging Indianapolis into darkness for 3 minutes and 50 seconds.

Zoom in: Tens of thousands of spectators are expected downtown at the White River State Park, museums and other viewing events.

  • The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has distributed 13,000 tickets for its event and has capacity for up to 20,000.

What they're saying: A report from the Transportation Research Board on lessons learned after the 2017 eclipse found traffic congestion lasted for up to 13 hours after the eclipse.

  • IMPD leaders said they spoke with local officials in Nashville and other cities in the 2017 path of totality and learned that people who were unprepared for hourslong delays ran out of gas and some became stranded without adequate supplies.

What they're doing: IMPD Chief Chris Bailey said officers will ensure emergency services can still get through the city and access hospitals.

  • They'll have officers throughout the city on bicycles, motorcycles and ATVs. ATV officers will have gas cans to respond to motorists who run out of fuel.
  • They'll use drones to monitor traffic from the air and state police will use a helicopter to do the same.

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed an executive order allowing the state to request equipment and communications systems from other states to support emergency response, transportation and other critical systems due to the expected high number of visitors.

The bottom line: Residents should avoid driving if possible, will need to be patient as visitors leave town and should plan for long delays if they do drive.

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