What you need to know about traffic safety, construction and driving during the total solar eclipse

TxDOT says to keep eyes on roads at all times; do not park on shoulder of highways

SAN ANTONIO – The clock is ticking to the total solar eclipse and while most of us will be watching the sky, officials with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and TransGuide will be watching the roads all day on Monday.

Both expect a heavy amount of traffic and congestion before, during and after the eclipse on all the major interstates headed west including Loop 1604, I-10 and Highway 90.

There is also expected to be a large volume of drivers headed north on Highway 281 toward the Dripping Springs area.

In preparation for the traffic, TxDOT is adding more maintenance trucks and courtesy patrols to those areas.

“We are going to be having additional staff to assist with anybody who may have issues with gasoline,” said Laura Lopez, TxDOT San Antonio spokesperson. “We will also have our maintenance sections assisting with courtesy patrol where needed, especially in the Hill Country because we’re going to have quite a bit of people in Boerne, Kerrville and heading west to Fredericksburg.”

That also includes extra TxDOT HERO trucks in busy areas. Lopez said their coverage will be similar to preparation for a winter weather event.

Multiple state agencies are working together to prepare for emergency response and increased traffic. TxDOT crews are getting equipment and traffic signs together to help direct traffic safely and will be available 24 hours a day during the event.

TxDOT is also preparing highway signs to share messages saying, “NO STOPPING ON HIGHWAY TO VIEW ECLIPSE” and “NO PARKING ON SHOULDER, KEEP MOVING.”

TxDOT said its primary message is to find a safe spot not on the highway or medians to watch the eclipse.

“We don’t want anybody to be parking on the shoulder, don’t wear your glasses when you’re driving,” said Lopez. “Keep your trash in your vehicle. We want to make sure, especially those that are not familiar with our campaign, the importance of keeping trash in your in your vehicle or disposing it in a proper location.”

TxDOT also advised drivers to be on alert for distracted pedestrians looking to the sky and keep your headlights on while driving, even in the daylight.

Lopez added that any planned construction work scheduled for the weekend has been postponed from Saturday to Tuesday (April 6-9). That includes the Loop 1604 Expansion on the Northwest Side and I-35 NEX project on the Northeast Side.

Another concern for TxDOT is protecting our state’s wildflowers. The colorful flowers will be present along many Texas highways during the total solar eclipse.

To ensure the wildflowers look their best and can continue to come back year after year, drivers are being asked to not drive over, park on or trample through the flowers.

More than 5,000 species of wildflowers and native grasses decorate Texas roadsides. While part of their benefit is for beautification, they’re also important pollinator plants. Monarch butterflies rely on the wildflowers during their migrations, as do 900 other species of butterflies, bees, birds and various creatures.

“We have quite a bit of wildflowers that are out. We want to make sure those wildflowers are not impacted by people driving on the shoulders or on the medians,” said Lopez.

TxDOT has been planting and maintaining wildflowers on highway right of way since the mid 1930′s.

You can find more information on TxDOT’s preparations for the eclipse here.

About the Author

RJ Marquez is the traffic anchor/reporter for KSAT’s Good Morning San Antonio. He also fills in as a news anchor and has covered stories from breaking news and Fiesta to Spurs championships and high school sports. RJ started at KSAT in 2010. He is proud to serve our viewers and be a part of the culture and community that makes San Antonio great.

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