SYLVA – The star of the show will perform for about two and a half minutes.
Planning has been ongoing for months in preparation for thousands — likely hundreds of thousands — of people traveling either to or through North Carolina for the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21.
Numerous events and festivals are planned in western North Carolina, with Jackson County alone preparing for 18,000 to 20,000 visitors. The estimated number of travelers headed to South Carolina exceeds 2.1 million. Because of this population surge, the N.C. Department of Transportation has been coordinating with various state. local and federal agencies to help eclipse enthusiasts safely enjoy the event.
Transportation officials urge residents and visitors to stay safe by following these tips during their eclipse weekend:
• Plan Ahead — Expect higher volumes of traffic on every road. Eclipse watchers are encouraged to arrive early. Remember to obey all posted signs and message boards.
• Stay Put — Do not park on the shoulder of the road to view the eclipse. Exit the roadway and park in a safe location, such as a rest area or other designated parking spots. Motorists should avoid distractions while driving and watch for pedestrians near eclipse viewing events. Do not wear eclipse viewing glasses while driving.
• Leave Late — Traffic will be likely be heavy following the eclipse, much like after a concert or sporting event. Stick around and let others leave first.
For those headed into the path of totality, follow the instructions of posted signs instead of your phone or GPS. NCDOT traffic experts, highway patrol officers and EMS officials will have accurate, real-time information and will be in the best position to direct traffic on the big day.
Those in other parts of North Carolina will experience a partial solar eclipse and are encouraged to follow the safety tips outlined above.
NCDOT will suspend road work and lane closures on primary routes in the 17 westernmost counties between Friday evening and Tuesday afternoon. Other interstates across the state will be monitored, and lane closures will be removed if heavy traffic backups occur.
State transportation officials have assembled 42 portable message boards that will be placed at strategic locations across seven counties with eclipse-related messages. Three new closed-circuit TV cameras have been installed and will be monitored so the timing of the lights can be changed to keep traffic flowing.
Four IMAP trucks will be ready to provide assistance on Interstates 26 and 40, as well as in the Nantahala Gorge and near Cowee Gap. With maintenance work suspended for the day, employees will be supplied with basic emergency tools, gas cans and towing chains and reassigned to help motorists in distress.
Visit nc.gov/eclipse2017 for more information about the total solar eclipse in North Carolina.