Kentucky Transportation Cabinet engineers say the biggest traffic surprise during the total solar eclipse was the immediate surge of outbound traffic after the eclipse ended.
In a release, KYTC says data from traffic count stations indicate crowd numbers below the anticipated estimates of up to 500,000 visitors. However, many roadways in the area saw a notable increase in traffic.
A section of the Pennyrile Parkway north of Hopkinsville typically carries 14,800 vehicles. On August 21, the number reached 23,927 - a roughly 60% increase.
U.S. 641 in Marshall County saw a 43% increase. I-24 in Lyon County had a 37% increase.
Conversely, U.S. 45 in Grave County was 9% below average. Analysts attributed this to local residents staying home to avoid the traffic.
The biggest traffic surge was a 222% increase in Hart County.
Engineers report the worst traffic was at I-69/Western Kentucky Parkway/Pennyrile Parkway south of Madisonville, which saw a 10-mile backup. Another major backup occurred at the Western Kentucky Parkway Elizabethtown interchange with I-65.
District 2 chief engineer Wade Clements said things went well, overall. He credited the cabinet, as well as the Kentucky State Police and other agencies, for issuing numerous releases and advisories in advance so that people were prepared.