Greater Capital District prepares for possible eclipse traffic, viewers

Communities preparing for eclipse viewing, impact

Many of us will soon head to northern parts of New York and Vermont to get the best look at Monday's solar eclipse.

Travelers are soon headed to northern parts of New York and Vermont to get the best look at Monday’s total solar eclipse. Local communities are preparing for what that means for traffic on the ground.

Signs on the Northway are already warning drivers to expect delays for Monday’s eclipse.  

“If you’re going to be out driving at that time, just understand that you might get stuck,” said Warren County Public Affairs Director Don Lehman.  

Portions of northern Warren County, including the hamlet of North River, will experience totality during Monday afternoon’s eclipse.

But potential gridlock is expected to come from travelers north and east who head home directly after, Lehman said.   

Vermont’s Agency of Transportation said it’s expecting around 160,000 visitors. Round up, and that’s a nearly 30% increase in the state’s population.

“You’re going to swell your population by a third for a couple of days and then all of those people are going to be heading home, ostensibly to southern locales. It’s going to create some traffic issues,” he said.  

Lehman said Warren County Sheriff’s Office is preparing additional patrols, following its protocols for large gatherings. Cell phone companies were not planning to boost signal in the county despite possible increased traffic.

“We see busy summer weekends all the time, but when you see people, you know, once this eclipse is over, there’s probably not a lot to keep them around here on a Monday afternoon, Monday night in early April, so the fear is everyone’s going to try to get home at the same time,” he said.

Meanwhile, the City of Albany is advertising its public watch party as a traffic-free experience.

“We, the Downtown Albany BID, are super excited to be hosting this special eclipse viewing experience on the Albany Skyway, which is one of downtown Albany’s most unique public resources. It will truly be such a memorable way to experience this once in a lifetime cosmic event with your friends, family and community without even having to leave the city or sit in traffic,” said Jevan Dollard, Special Events Manager at Downtown Albany BID.

“We are not anticipating a huge influx of people, because we’re not in the path of totality,” Mayor Kathy Sheehan (D – Albany) said at a press conference Wednesday.

The city’s watch party begins at noon on Monday, complete with a DJ, food and free eclipse glasses.