Total Solar Eclipse on August 21, 2017: Special Event with Coast-to-Coast Traffic Congestion

Transportation professionals have been conducting special-event traffic planning and management for decades for events such as the Super Bowl, parades, holiday celebrations, and fireworks displays. The 2017 total solar eclipse was unlike any other special event, however. At 5 million participants, it was likely the largest special event in U.S. history. Almost all viewers traveled to the path of totality by motor vehicle. After the eclipse, which lasted only two to three minutes, some Interstate routes experienced traffic congestion, slow speeds, and long travel times for up to 13 hours. This article presents observations and lessons from August 21, 2017, to better understand successful strategies and areas for improvement so that transportation agencies can prepare for the next total solar eclipse in 2024. In addition, it presents an analysis of post-eclipse traffic counts in Wyoming and Idaho and compares estimates of the actual number of travelers versus predicted numbers.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; Maps; Photos;
  • Pagination: pp 3-9
  • Serial:
    • TR News
    • Issue Number: 317
    • Publisher: Transportation Research Board
    • ISSN: 0738-6826

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01682762
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Oct 5 2018 3:28PM