Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The traffic jam that wasn't: Cloud-covered eclipse ends with clear roadways

Concern about traffic jams in the aftermath of Monday’s eclipse dissipated more quickly than the clouds that blocked people’s view of totality.

Officials saw no tie-ups on area highways from 4 to 5 p.m., when serious congestion on roads to the south and east of Rochester was expected. And with traffic flowing smoothly, officials shut down Monroe County’s Emergency Operations Center about 5:30 p.m.

“What we suspect, since we have seen light traffic all day long is, number one, we did not see the influx of cars from out of county due to the weather forecast, right?” said Monroe County Emergency Manager Tim Henry. “That they went farther north and east of us along that (eclipse) path, potentially into north of Syracuse, Jefferson County, and even up into the Adirondacks.”

That would seem to fit with state Department of Transportation traffic maps showing congestion in those areas during the evening rush hour.

In addition to the weather, officials credited the number of businesses that closed or allowed people to work from home, and the schools being closed.

“That's going to keep people off the road,” said Joe Leathersich, a spokesman with the state Department of Transportation. “I think it's at least in part caused by this messaging that we've been, you know, beating the drum of for the past 12 months.”

With hotels reporting many guests spending the night, officials said the morning commute could see more traffic than usual as those folks depart — under partly cloudy skies.

A flood of traffic could begin hitting roadways into southern and eastern Monroe County immediately after totality, and not clear for several hours.

Brian Sharp is WXXI's investigations and enterprise editor. He also reports on business and development in the area. He has been covering Rochester since 2005. His journalism career spans nearly three decades.