BEND, Ore. - While the Aug. 21 solar eclipse is months away, ODOT highway managers in Central Oregon said Monday they are already planning how to keep traffic moving on Highway 97.
Much of Central Oregon, from about Madras through Prineville and Mitchell, will be in the path of totality during the eclipse. Those communities will be magnets for eclipse visitors.
The population of the tri-county area (Deschutes, Jefferson and Cook) is expected to double during the eclipse event, and that means many more travelers are expected to be visiting the area -- and driving on local highways.
In anticipation of a much greater volume of traffic locally on Highway 97 during the event period, ODOT said it is staffing up.
“It’s our intent to keep the highways open,” said Jim Scholtes, ODOT's assistant district manager in the Bend area.
He added, “We’ll be having an all–hands effort, with resources spread out across the highway system to handle any trouble that may arise,” to focus on the primary mission of keeping traffic flowing.
Still, ODOT is advising motorists to be prepared for adverse driving conditions and to expect the unexpected, as well as possible delays.
"Please plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time to get to your intended destination," the agency said.