Total guide to Texas eclipse travel
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Total guide to Texas eclipse travel

March 20, 2024

By Kelly Lindner and Laura Butterbrodt

AUSTIN — The moon will throw some serious shade next month, and TxDOT is preparing for a major increase in traffic as Texans and visitors across the state travel to witness this rare total solar eclipse.

Responding to a call for help along the road, TxDOT Highway Emergency Response Operator team lead Martin Lazo saw the sky get eerily dark right before noon. It was the annular eclipse in Oct. 2023, and it stopped him in his tracks. He took a second to experience the unusual phenomenon, but then he was back to work, helping drivers return to the road safely.

“We’re used to working in those dark hours,” HERO senior operator Lettie Casares said.

Lazo and Casares are set to go back to work again for the total eclipse on April 8. This time they’ll be one part of a statewide operation that TxDOT has been planning for two years to ensure traffic flows as smoothly and safely as possible.

It will be the first total solar eclipse over Texas since 1878, and the last total eclipse viewable from the -United States until 2044. The moon will be in the perfect position between the sun and the Earth to completely block the light of the sun. With 480 miles of Texas within the “path of totality,” there could be heavy traffic before, during and after the event.

“Many Texans will be able to see a total solar eclipse from their backyards,” said Matthew Heinze, TxDOT emergency management coordinator. “And residents of neighboring states and other counties will travel here to see it, resulting in additional vehicles on state roads. Projections say there could be up to a million people who travel to, through and within Texas to get to the path of totality to see the eclipse.”

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.”

Crews are also pausing some road construction and maintenance work on major corridors in the path of the eclipse April 7-9, based on traffic volumes.

What can you do to be ready?

While TxDOT prepares for this celestial circumstance, the public is asked to do their part in planning ahead:

  • Expect heavier-than-usual traffic in the days before, during and after the eclipse, especially on major corridors near the path of totality.
  • Leave early and plan your route. Your drive may take longer than predicted. DriveTexas.org has up-to-date traffic conditions.
  • Find a safe, designated space to park before the eclipse. Do not stop in the middle of the road or on a road shoulder.
  • “Drive friendly, the Texas way.” Bring a calm and courteous attitude on the road with you.
  • Enjoy the beautiful wildflowers that will be in bloom, but don’t drive over or trample them, so they can grow back next year.
  • Don’t let litter eclipse Texas. Dispose of all waste in a proper trash can.

With more visitors to the Lone Star state, we can expect more trash. According to Heinze, traffic and litter increased during the eclipse last October and it was only a partial eclipse, a more common occurrence. April will be a total eclipse, and its impact could be much greater.

To manage the traffic, Lazo and Casares encourage everyone who is watching the eclipse to arrive at their viewing spot early to avoid getting stuck in gridlock. In addition, they ask for patience and space if an emergency response vehicle does block traffic to help a person in need.

“If you see something going on ahead of you, just slow down and give us a quick brake,” Lazo said. “We’re not there to hold traffic up. We just want people to get back on the road as safely as we possibly can. We just need a couple minutes, so please share the road and be patient.”

When and where is the eclipse?

The “Great American Eclipse” centerline will enter Texas at the Mexico-U.S. border near Eagle Pass at 12:10 p.m. CDT and will leave the state near Texarkana at 3:06 p.m. Totality will last between 1-5 minutes, depending on location. Totality will be visible in the following cities beginning at these times:

  • Eagle Pass: 1:27 p.m.
  • Uvalde: 1:29 p.m.
  • San Antonio: 1:33 p.m.
  • Austin: 1:36 p.m.
  • Waco: 1:38 p.m.
  • Dallas and Fort Worth: 1:40 p.m.
  • Tyler: 1:43 p.m.
  • Texarkana: 1:46 p.m.

Texas is lucky to have the longest durations of totality in the country, and it also is home to all four of the largest cities in the eclipse’s path – Dallas, San Antonio, Austin and Fort Worth.

More resources

Digital kiosks at TxDOT Travel Information Centers will feature eclipse information and digital highway signs will have messages displayed to remind drivers to keep their eyes on the road and to keep moving.

For more details, including travel information, driving trips and resources from other agencies, visit www.txdot.gov/discover/texas-eclipse-2024.html.