Arkansas' Department of Transportation is suggesting truckers take a day off April 8 of next year as a total solar eclipse passes over the state.
The department expects so many eclipse viewers will flock to the state that they will flood the highways, making the day "mostly unproductive for freight vehicles." ArDOT also says it may limit the issuance of oversized permits on the days leading up to and immediately after the eclipse.
Those are just two of the suggestions included in ArDOT's traffic management plan for the eclipse, which the department says could be the largest tourism event in the state's history. It suggests as many as 1.5 million visitors could come to Arkansas to view the eclipse, which is expected to last just 15 minutes as the moon passes between Earth and the Sun. ArDOT also says 500,000 Arkansans will travel from their homes to be within the 117-mile-wide path of the eclipse.
ArDOT's Traffic Management Plan is meant to advise public officials prepare for and manage the expected increase in traffic before, during, and after the eclipse, which will create total darkness for about four minutes.
That plan suggests a Truck Holiday and says:
"Severe congestion is expected on the entire Arkansas State Highway System during the Eclipse, to such an extent that the day may be mostly unproductive for freight vehicles. ArDOT will engage the Arkansas Trucking Association in an effort to encourage truckers to adjust their travel schedule, so they are not trapped on the roadways with eclipse-related traffic. Like other TDM (Traffic Demand Management) strategies discussed, this will be a voluntary decision on the part of the commercial drivers with no penalty for those who decide to operate during the eclipse."
It also said, "To reduce congestion, ARDOT may limit the issuance of oversized permits on the days leading up to and immediately after the eclipse. ARDOT will alert the Arkansas Trucking Association, and other entities as appropriate, to give them ample time to adjust travel schedules."
The department said people who live and work in the path of the eclipse should consider working from home to avoid having to commute to the office. It also suggested visitors to the state "stay a while" instead of heading home once the eclipse is over.
ArDOT's plan also said several schools have already announced they will be closed on April 8. It will supply the state Department of Education with traffic information in case other schools are considering closing.
On April 8, the Moon will pass between the Sun and the Earth, creating a 117.9-mile-wide shadow that will enter the southwest tip of Arkansas near De Queen at 1:46 p.m. Central Daylight Time. The shadow will move along a northeasterly path until it exits the state near Pocahontas at about 2 p.m.. The period of total darkness for any particular location along the center of the path will be just over four minutes.
The eclipse will pass over Mexico, enter the U.S. in Texas and continue on a northeastern trajectory over part of the Midwest, western New York and into New England before passing over the Canadian Maritime provinces.