Oregon state agencies have been preparing for a major increase in traffic, especially to areas of totality. However, something happened they didn’t expect on the roads: smooth sailing around the Portland metro Sunday morning.
Oregon Department of Transportation workers say it seems as if locals have already hit the road down to totality.
The real traffic was piling up at the Portland International Airport.
Some people say they’re staying in downtown Portland or Beaverton and are hoping to head south around 3 a.m. Monday morning.
“We started talking about it a year ago, I think, and we probably booked this about six or eight months ago,” said Miressa Lira, who is driving to totality from Beaverton. “If we miss it, I swear I’m gonna die.”
There didn’t appear to be any nerves about traffic leaving from the airport Sunday morning.
Even with just hours to go before the eclipse, last-minute travelers say they’re ready.
“Yeah, even if I had to walk. I did a lot of walking yesterday to get in shape just in case we do have to do a lot of walking, so there’s no way I’m gonna miss this one,” said George Sharp, who is traveling to totality from Saskatchewan, Canada.
Maz Strodike had just landed at PDX Sunday morning from Peru. She found a ride Sunday morning to the Symbiosis Gathering in Prineville.
“I’m completely winging this experience,” she said.
Traffic started easy on Portland metro roads Sunday morning. ODOT traffic operations specialist Lee Erickson said the traffic was fairly normal for this time of day.
“If it does increase then we’re prepared for it. We’ll do what we need to do to keep the highways open,” he said.
ODOT has three incident response trucks in Portland for the eclipse. There’s normally two.
They also have some of their video signs displaying warnings in preparation for the eclipse. Monday’s sign is set to read: “TURN ON LIGHTS. SOLAR ECLIPSE 10-11 AM.”
Though the traffic appeared light in Portland Sunday morning, that’s bound to change soon.
ODOT workers say if a person is driving during the eclipse and wants to watch, pull into a parking lot or another safe spot – not on the roadside.
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