Officials say Ohio drivers and out-of-state visitors successfully avoided ‘post-eclipse gridlock’

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CINCINNATI (WVXU) — State transportation and law enforcement officials have a message for people who traveled within or to Ohio for the April 8 total solar eclipse: Good job!

According to a release from the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Ohio Department of Transportation, data indicates people followed the advice to come early and stay late, and therefore the Buckeye State avoided “the post-eclipse gridlock other states experienced.”

Gov. Mike DeWine thanked everyone involved in planning for the celestial celebrations.

“I’m grateful to all our state and local partners who spent more than two years planning for this event,” he said.

Using data from more than 200 continuous traffic count stations around the state, the Ohio Department of Transportation reports traffic volumes increased 12.8% on Sunday, fell by 4.4% on Monday — the day of the eclipse — and then went back up by 15.8% the next day.

“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,” said ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks in a release. “I also commend our crews for their efforts ahead of, during, and after the eclipse. It really paid off.”

The state patrol, which stepped up its presence on roads in and around the path of totality, conducted 16,285 traffic stops from Friday, April 5, through Tuesday, April 9. The agency reports traffic crashes decreased 6% compared to the same time frame the week prior. Troopers helped out 2,066 motorists with things like changing tires, giving directions, or helping folks who ran out of gas.

Traffic in the northern part of the state along the Ohio Turnpike was expected to be high. Service plaza and toll station hours were extended and gasoline and diesel fuel inventories increased.

Sally and Tom Zito, from Detroit, view the total solar eclipse at the Ohio Turnpike’s Middle Ridge Service Plaza in Amherst leaning against their vehicle.
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. [Ohio State Highway Patrol | Ohio Department of Transportation]

By the numbers

ODOT reports the following data:

“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 SR 14 west of SR 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. I-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.

“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.”