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Eclipse excitement followed by traffic headaches

Long backups begin even before event ends

Eclipse traffic clogging Central...

BEND, Ore. - Central Oregon highways were completely gridlocked as the Great American Eclipse came and went on Monday. People trying to beat the crowd were stuck in slow traffic from Madras to Bend. 

License plates from all across the nation could be seen as cars pulled over on the side of the Highway 97 near the Crooked River Gorge Bridge. 

Larry Colton said he was at Crater Lake National Park and drove up at 4:30 a.m. to watch the solar eclipse near Terrebonne. 

"There was a constant stream of cars heading north, but there wasn't really stop until 10 miles back, and then we were moving at slow 10, 5 miles an hour, " Colton said. 

Oregon Department of Transportation traffic cameras showed traffic at a standstill coming in and out of Madras and flooding into Bend. 

Brett Curran and his family drove from Seattle for a vacation and was at the Redmond Caves, when he watched the scene go dark for about two minutes. 

"It's just hard to believe," Curran said. "You see pictures of what it was supposed to be, and sure enough, it got dark, everything got quiet and there it was -- the perfect circle with just a little bit of sun. It was sci fi, it seemed like."

But that serene darkness soon turned into travel madness. 

A normal 30-minute trip from Madras from Redmond, at some points three times that long. There were some crashes, but no reported serious injuries.

Sunriver police reported Monday evening "an abnormal amount of traffic causing congestion throughout" the area, as drivers stuck in slow-moving traffic through Bend try to detour around the backup by going into the resort community. There was a minor-injury crash involving several vehicles, said Police Chief Marc Mills.

Heavy traffic is expected to continue as more people head home throughout the week, including the estimated 60,000 attendees at the Symbiosis Music Festival on Big Summit Prairie east of Prineville. 

A look at TripCheck.com after nightfall showed heavy Highway 97 traffic still backing up south of Bend. Follow the latest traffic updates at http://www.ktvz.com/weather/roads


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