Columbia, SC (WLTX) - With half a million people (or more) expected to arrive in Columbia alone, there's no doubt the roadways are going to be jam packed through the long eclipse weekend.
How bad will they be? State officials aren't sure. the only frame of reference they have right now is hotel bookings, and they were told Friday morning that all of them in Columbia and Sumter are completely full.
Full Coverage: Total Solar Eclipse in South Carolina
Troopers who normally have administrative roles are getting into a car and hitting the streets. Trooper David Jones anticipates the traffic chaos to start on Monday after the eclipse, when everyone is trying to get on the road and head back to work
"We're asking people if you can stay for another day please do so because there's going to be a lot of traffic that Monday afternoon," Jones said.
The agency will have troopers all up and down I-26, since that's the path of totality, which is where people will be flocking to. He says folks can also do their part to keep everything flowing
"if you're going to leave and you're traveling from here from Florence make sure you fill up with gas, you pack some snacks some water, your cell phone is fully charged, just like any disaster or large influx of traffic we see," Jones said.
Meanwhile, the South Carolina Department of Transportation is putting extra crews on the streets
Right now they have a program called SHEP (State Highway Emergency Program) that helps drivers with minor repairs on the side of the road. Their goal is to keep traffic going and avoid any secondary accidents.
Normally they have four trucks covering down Interstate 26 to Calhoun County, but, starting Saturday and into Monday, they'll have 6 trucks helping folks all the way into Charleston.
The department is also suspending all roadwork from Saturday until Monday to prevent further congestion on the roads.
SHEP supervisor Brian Ocain with what they can help you with.
"Gas, diesel for vehicles, traffic control as far as traffic cones, we'll have [signs] when there's lane closures," Ocain said.
SCDOT says they have nothing to compare the eclipse to and they're just preparing for it as a big holiday event. If you're stuck in the roadways and need SCHEP to come to your rescue, all you have to do is call star-H-P or Star-47 for assistance.
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