WYDOT reminds motorists to plan ahead for eclipse and be alert for distracted drivers

August 9, 2017

The Wyoming Department of Transportation is reminding motorists to plan ahead, allow for extra travel time and be alert for distracted drivers during the Aug. 21 solar eclipse.

To help with the increase in traffic, WYDOT will temporarily stop road construction in the path of the totality and along some main highways people will use to access the eclipse’s path from Aug. 17 through Aug. 23 to help with traffic flow.

WYDOT has no planned closures during the eclipse. All state routes will be open unless there is an unforeseen incident such as a crash.

“With Wyoming expecting increased traffic and tourism, WYDOT officials decided it would be best to temporarily stop construction projects,” WYDOT Director Bill Panos said. “We want to ensure traffic flows smoothly during the eclipse. We always strive to provide a safe, high quality and efficient transportation system, and the measures we are putting in place will do just that.”

The department will also use its overhead message signs, temporarily stop oversize and overweight loads from driving through the state, have extra personnel on hand to handle the increase in travelers and ensure its rest areas are well maintained.

On Aug. 21, the moon will block out the sun, causing a total solar eclipse across Wyoming and in other states. The last time there was a total solar eclipse in Wyoming was in 1918. In Wyoming, the eclipse will impact nine counties and the Wind River Reservation.

The Wyoming Highway Patrol will not issue any oversize or overweight permits on Aug. 20, 21 and 22 to help with traffic flow.

Patrol will also have troopers working 12-hour shifts to handle any law enforcement issues statewide.

Another way WYDOT is helping to keep motorists safe and informed is through an interactive eclipse map. WYDOT’s GIS/ITS program partnered with the Wyoming Office of Tourism to develop the map. Visitors can access the map at http://www.travelwyoming.com/eclipse to learn more about eclipse viewing, campgrounds and other vital information.

Visitors can ensure their enjoyment of the eclipse by following several guidelines: 

  • Only camp in designated public areas. Camping is allowed on Wyoming’s public lands, including at campsites in the national parks, national forests, Wyoming state parks and BLM-managed lands. Do not camp or park on private property.
  • Use eclipse glasses to safely view the eclipse. These glasses provide eye protection from the eclipse, which can burn the retina of a person’s eye in seconds.
  • Bring plenty of water, sunscreen and snacks.
  • Ensure vehicles have plenty of fuel. There are some areas in Wyoming where there are long distances between gas stations. Plan travel accordingly.
  • Don’t stop and pull off onto the side of the roads during the eclipse. It’s illegal to park on the shoulders or in any ditch areas.
  • Don’t use the median crossings on the interstates for turning around or parking. Those crossings are for authorized vehicles.
  • Don’t build a campfire or set off fireworks in WYDOT’s rights-of-way or rest areas. August is Wyoming’s peak fire season. Don’t park on any highway shoulder or in any ditch area. That can not only be dangerous for you and other drivers, but a person’s car exhaust could start a grass fire.
  • Pay attention, and don’t drive distracted. Drive defensively because there will be more motorists on the road, and some of them may be slowing down or may not be paying attention when the eclipse is occurring. Motorists should watch out for distracted drivers.

For additional information about this news release, contact Aimee Inama, senior Public Affairs specialist, at (307) 777-4013.