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Texas Braces for Rare Total Solar Eclipse: TxDOT Prepares for Traffic Surge

As anticipation mounts for next month’s rare total solar eclipse, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) gears up for an unprecedented influx of visitors, preparing to manage increased traffic across the state.

For Martin Lazo, lead of TxDOT’s Highway Emergency Response Operator team, the memory of the 2023 annular eclipse remains vivid. The eerie darkness that enveloped the sky during the midday hours left an indelible impression. Now, as Texas braces for its first total solar eclipse since 1878, Lazo and his team are poised to handle the anticipated surge in traffic.

“We’re accustomed to operating in low-light conditions,” remarks Lettie Casares, senior operator of the HERO team, emphasizing their readiness for the upcoming celestial event.

With preparations spanning two years, TxDOT aims to ensure smooth traffic flow and enhanced safety measures during the eclipse. Spanning 480 miles across Texas, the “path of totality” is expected to witness heavy traffic before, during, and after the event.

Matthew Heinze, TxDOT’s emergency management coordinator, underscores the significance of the eclipse, anticipating a million visitors traversing Texas to witness the rare phenomenon.

Collaborating with multiple state agencies, TxDOT orchestrates a comprehensive response plan, deploying crews equipped with traffic control tools and messaging signage. Special attention is given to highway safety, with reminders urging motorists to refrain from stopping on highways to view the eclipse.

To facilitate traffic management, TxDOT halts certain road construction and maintenance activities along major corridors during the eclipse period, ensuring smoother travel experiences for commuters.

Amidst preparations, TxDOT urges public cooperation and proactive planning. Travelers are advised to anticipate heavier traffic and plan their routes accordingly. DriveTexas.org offers real-time traffic updates to aid travelers in navigating congestion.

Emphasizing safety, TxDOT encourages viewers to find designated parking spots before the eclipse and refrain from impeding traffic flow. A courteous and patient attitude on the road is emphasized, alongside environmental stewardship to preserve Texas’ natural beauty.

Aware of potential challenges, Lazo and Casares advise eclipse viewers to arrive early at their designated spots to avoid congestion. Patience and cooperation are sought from motorists to facilitate emergency response efforts.

The eclipse’s trajectory will enter Texas at the Mexico-U.S. border near Eagle Pass, progressing across the state and exiting near Texarkana. Totality durations vary by location, with major cities such as Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, and Fort Worth in the eclipse’s path.

Here are the times of totality for select cities:

  • Eagle Pass: 1:27 p.m.
  • Uvalde: 1:29 p.m.
  • San Antonio: 1:33 p.m.
  • Austin: 1:36 p.m.
  • Waco: 1:38 p.m.
  • Dallas and Fort Worth: 1:40 p.m.
  • Tyler: 1:43 p.m.
  • Texarkana: 1:46 p.m.

Digital kiosks at TxDOT Travel Information Centers will disseminate eclipse information, while highway signs will convey safety messages to motorists.

For further details and travel resources, including driving tips and agency collaborations, visit www.txdot.gov/discover/texas-eclipse-2024.html as Texas prepares for this extraordinary celestial event.