ITD releases outgoing eclipse traffic numbers

Travelers head north on Interstate 15 prior to Monday’s total solar eclipse over Idaho Falls. John Roark / jroark@postregister.com

More than 90,000 vehicles flowed out of Idaho in the two days following the eclipse.

More than half of outgoing traffic was on Interstate 15, which saw the slowest travel times. The Idaho Transportation Department estimates 45,320 vehicles went south toward Utah between 11 a.m. Monday and midnight Tuesday while another 10,040 went north. Traffic on I-15 remained congested until 9:30 p.m. Monday as an estimated 160,000 out-of-state visitors returned home.

The numbers are far fewer than the 300,000 visitor total provided by city of Idaho Falls officials, but the Transportation Department’s estimate doesn’t factor in airport passengers or visitors who stayed in the region past Tuesday. Heavy traffic in Yellowstone National Park continued through Tuesday, a National Park Service news release said.

The traffic counts were nearly triple the outgoing traffic for the same period in 2016. Other busy routes were U.S. Highway 20, which had a traffic count of 10,690 vehicles heading east, and U.S. Highway 91 with 10,470 estimated vehicles.

Traffic on the interstate was bumper-to-bumper for several hours after the eclipse, only occasionally going faster than 25 mph. The drive from Idaho Falls to Rexburg on Highway 20 was also slow, taking up to three hours for a drive that is usually 30 minutes.

The Idaho Transportation Department said traffic in most other areas was clear by 5 p.m.

Although traffic was slow moving, there were no major emergencies on the highways. ITD had all 120 District 6 employees on the road equipped with emergency supplies and equipment. Its employees were prepared for vehicle breakdowns, dehydration, flat tires and medical emergencies for the thousands of people on the road.

ITD spokesman Bruce King said he hadn’t heard of any of department’s employees having to stop to help motorists during the eclipse exodus.

Eric Day, EMS Division Chief for the Idaho Falls Fire Department, said there weren’t any serious emergencies in Idaho Falls beyond the Ririe Reservoir boating accident that killed two people.

“Call volume stayed steady throughout the day,” Day said. “The calls we did have were not too bad.”


Reporter Johnathan Hogan can be reached at 208-542-6746.


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