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Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission
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Berea, Ohio 44017-2799
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Solar Eclipse 2024

solar eclipse

Eclipse Watchers Arrived Early and Stayed Late

COLUMBUS (April 16, 2024) – The message from state officials was clear: Arrive early and stay late for last week’s solar eclipse. New data shows that most people did just that, avoiding the post-eclipse gridlock other states experienced.

“I’m grateful to all our state and local partners who spent more than two years planning for this event. Because of their hard work, millions of Ohioans and visitors witnessed the awe-inspiring eclipse and enjoyed a fun day here in the heart of it all,” said Gov. Mike DeWine.

Ohio Department of Transportation

Travel data from the Ohio Department of Transportation shows traffic volumes were up 12.8% on Sunday, fell by 4.4% the day of the eclipse, and increased again by 15.8% on Tuesday.

The biggest increase in traffic on Monday came on state Route 31 north of Marysville where traffic was up by 71.7%, US 35 west of Chillicothe with a 67.4% increase in traffic, and state Route 14 west of state Route 165 to the Pennsylvania border saw a 42.8% increase.

Within the path of totality, traffic on US 30 from Van Wert to Canton was up 13%, including a 53.4% increase west of US 224 near Van Wert. Traffic on US 23 between Chillicothe and Marion was up 11.5% with the biggest jump around Marion where traffic increased by 21.4%.

The state’s interstates also saw increased traffic. Interstate 71 north of US 30 saw a 21.5% bump in traffic volume, I-75 in Perrysburg was up 22.6%, and I-70 saw a 15.7% increase between I-270 and US 42. Traffic on I-74 between Cincinnati and Indiana saw traffic surge by 14.8%.

On Tuesday, the entire I-70 corridor saw an 11.8% increase in traffic, the biggest bump in the Cambridge area where traffic volumes were up by more than 20%. Traffic on I-77 was up 11.1%, including a 20% increase in traffic south of Canton.

“This data shows that Ohioans and visitors did what we asked of them, and it worked to prevent a huge surge of traffic directly following the eclipse. I also commend our crews for their efforts ahead of, during, and after the eclipse. It really paid off,” said ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks.

The data comes from more than 200 continuous traffic count stations across the state. Data was compared to the average traffic volumes observed on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays in April 2023.

Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission

Traffic volume across the Ohio Turnpike – a 241-mile toll road designated as I-80, I-90 and I-76 – increased during the days leading up to, during, and after the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.

The highest traffic volume increases on the Ohio Turnpike occurred on Monday, April 8, with 156,812 trips and Tuesday, April 9, with 162,381 trips. The Ohio Turnpike averages about 139,000 trips per day.

“I commend our staff and troopers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol for their meticulous planning in preparation of the solar eclipse,” said Ferzan M. Ahmed, P.E., executive director of the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission in Berea, Ohio. “As expected, there were traffic backups, especially eastbound, as travelers were returning home. The unusually heavy traffic was managed safely and as well as can be expected. Message boards were used to prevent motorists from stopping on the shoulders and to slow down and to expect stopped traffic.”

Sally and Tom Zito, from Detroit, view the total solar eclipse at the Ohio Turnpike’s Middle Ridge Service Plaza in Amherst (Lorain County) on April 8, 2024. The Zito’s were traveling from Pittsburgh back home to Detroit.

To accommodate the influx of travelers into the state, the Ohio Turnpike’s service plazas and participating vendors increased their hours of operation. Gasoline and diesel fuel inventories were increased.

“Many travelers indicated they chose the Ohio Turnpike’s 14 service plazas as their viewing destinations for the eclipse because of ample parking, restaurant choices, and restrooms,” Ahmed added. “The parking lots were full. Our customers were all safely situated at the various service plazas to view the eclipse.”

Ohio State Highway Patrol

During the recent solar eclipse, the Ohio State Highway Patrol heightened its operations to safeguard both Ohioans and visitors. From Friday, April 5, through Tuesday, April 9, troopers conducted 16,285 traffic stops, marking a 27% increase from the same time frame the prior week.

Additionally, troopers assisted 2,066 motorists by helping change tires, providing directions, and aiding motorists out of gas. Despite the increase in motorists on Ohio roads, provisional data shows that troopers also saw a 6% decrease in the number of crashes investigated compared to the same time frame the prior week thanks to the collaborative efforts of everyone involved.

"The success of this event was made possible not only by the dedicated efforts of our Patrol personnel and fellow safety service partners but also by the responsible actions of the motoring public," said Colonel Charles A. Jones, Patrol Superintendent. "Together, we ensured a safe and memorable experience for all."

The Patrol took a proactive approach to manage the increased traffic volume during the solar eclipse. These measures included increased staffing, strategic utilization of the Patrol's Aviation Section, and close collaboration with state and local partners. These efforts were instrumental in ensuring compliance with all traffic laws and maintaining high safety standards. The Patrol's commitment to enhancing the well-being of all travelers throughout the state remains unwavering.

Ohio Turnpike Prepares for Solar Eclipse

BEREA, Ohio (March 12, 2024) – Ohio residents and visitors within a 124-mile area of the state will experience a total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. Viewers outside the path of totality will experience a partial eclipse.

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth.

The last total solar eclipse visible in Ohio was in 1806. The next total solar eclipse visible from Ohio will occur in 2099.

Out-of-state travelers planning to view the eclipse in Ohio are encouraged to “arrive early” and “stay late” to help reduce traffic congestion across the Ohio Turnpike and other state roadways.

How is the Ohio Turnpike preparing for the eclipse?

The Ohio Turnpike – a 241-mile toll road designated as I-80, I-90 and I-76 that runs east and west along the state’s northern corridor – was designed to manage large volumes of both passenger and commercial vehicle traffic safely and efficiently.

Staff from Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission are accustomed to handling heavy traffic volumes on the toll road. Just like all peak travel days with an expected increase in traffic, the toll booths, 14 service plazas, and eight maintenance buildings will be staffed accordingly in anticipation of a high-volume traffic event. 

“Toll operations will function as it normally would for a peak travel event,” says Laurie Davis, director of toll plaza operations for the turnpike commission. “Toll operations staff will be able to accommodate an increase in traffic volume through a combination of E-ZPass lanes, staffed toll booth lanes, and automated toll payment machines.”

The Ohio Turnpike’s safety services and maintenance operations staff work year-round with emergency response agencies in proximity to the 241-mile toll road. The Ohio Turnpike’s communication’s center (radio room/dispatch) will be fully staffed around the clock as it is normally.

Troopers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) – which operates three posts on the Ohio Turnpike – will be highly visible and ready to assist motorists in the days leading up to, during, and following the eclipse.

In addition, the Ohio Turnpike will be staffed by personnel providing roadside assistance to stranded motorists 24-hours a day.

How much additional traffic is expected in Ohio for the eclipse?

The Ohio Emergency Management Agency estimates between 150,000 and 575,000 travelers will visit the state for the solar eclipse.

What is the typical traffic volume on the Ohio Turnpike?

In 2023, an average of nearly 139,000 passenger vehicles and commercial trucks traveled on the Ohio Turnpike per day, and that number increases significantly during peak travel times over the holidays.

For an additional perspective, over a five-day period (Wednesday to Sunday) during the Thanksgiving holiday in 2023, more than 592,000 trips were completed by the Ohio Turnpike’s passenger vehicle customers alone, an increase of about 3% from 2022.

Will any construction on the Ohio Turnpike be paused that day?

“Lane closures, typically set for construction work zones and other maintenance projects, will not be permitted prior, during, or after the eclipse,” says Chris Matta, chief engineer for the turnpike commission. “Currently, a long-term work zone was set for the Tinkers Creek bridge project both eastbound and westbound on the Ohio Turnpike at milepost 185.6 in Summit County. Two of the three lanes will be open in both directions.”

Portable message signs will be placed at various locations along the toll road to keep travelers informed about traffic incidents, driving conditions, or to provide other roadway safety messages. 

Are the service plazas prepared to handle an influx of travelers?

The Ohio Turnpike’s 14 service plazas (seven eastbound and seven westbound) provide travelers with comprehensive services and amenities, including overnight parking for recreational vehicles (RV) and travel trailers, electric vehicle (EV) charging locations, restaurants options, and more.

“All 14 of our safe and convenient service plazas, located about 30 to 50 miles apart, will be available for fuel, food, and comfort stops 24 hours a day for travelers heading to and from their eclipse viewing locations,” says Drew Herberger, director of service plaza operations for the turnpike commission.

“Participating restaurants at the Ohio Turnpike's service plazas will extend their hours of operation and increase staffing and supplies, and gasoline and diesel fuel deliveries will be increased,” Herberger added.

For more information about the Ohio Turnpike’s service plazas, restaurant choices, and locations by milepost, click here.

What can motorists do to keep the roadways safer?

The OSHP – which operates three posts on the Ohio Turnpike – recommends that motorists:

  • Do their part to contribute to traffic safety through planning, preparation, and patience.
  • Find a safe location to view the eclipse. Do not stop on the roadside along the Ohio Turnpike, any interstate, roadway or at an exit/entrance ramp.
  • Maintain a full tank of fuel and include an emergency vehicle kit and a cell phone charger.
  • Remain patient on the roadways before, during and after the eclipse. An increase in traffic volume will likely result in travel delays.
  • Focus on driving. Do not get distracted during the eclipse.
  • Turn on their headlights during temporary darkness caused by the eclipse or for other weather-related conditions decreasing visibility.
  • Dial 911 or #677 in Ohio for emergency assistance, to report unsafe drivers, or to assist stranded motorists. 

Can E-ZPass reduce my travel times?

Travelers without an E-ZPass should consider getting one to save money on tolls and reduce travel times.

E-ZPass customers with passenger vehicles (Class 1) can save an average of about 33% on Ohio Turnpike tolls compared to customers who pay by cash or credit card. In addition, E‑ZPass is accepted by tolling agencies in another 18 states.

E-ZPass toll rates are calculated and deducted electronically from prepaid account balances. To compare the savings on tolls with E-ZPass to tolls paid by cash or credit card, check out the Ohio Turnpike’s Fare Calculator.

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