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Solar Eclipse: School Closings and Traffic Snarl-Ups Will Impact Thousands in Middle Tennessee

THP, TDOT Help Trucks on Duty for the Eclipse - Credit: TN.gov

THP, TDOT Help Trucks on Duty for the Eclipse – Credit: TN.gov

Planning your “Eclipse Day”? If you just figured you could take out your eclipse glasses for a lunchtime viewing, you may have to plan again.

Stillman and Friedland’s early eclipse report had just about everything you need to know regarding safety information for the upcoming total solar eclipse on Monday, August 21st. Today we are updating you with the latest information regarding school closings and the anticipated traffic overloads—and how they will impact you.

As those of you with excited school-age kids are well aware, the Metro Nashville public school system reversed its decision to stay open, and will close on Monday. Planned absences of teachers and bus drivers would have reduced school staff to minimal numbers and threatened student safety, so schools will be closed. Many other Tennessee school districts, courts, and government offices are also closing for the day.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry had pushed to keep schools open so working parents would not be forced to take time off or risk leaving their kids home alone. Now, parents may have to take a vacation day on Monday.

Since schools will not be providing an educational framework for this event, it is up to you to supervise your kids’ viewing. Did your kids get their eclipse safety glasses? The Metro Nashville school system is distributing glasses to students in a massive safety and educational effort. In all, schools will hand out 88,000 pairs of eclipse glasses for students. Once you have safety glasses (or pinhole viewers) for everyone—including yourself—you are ready to figure out where you want to go to see the eclipse.

TDOT and area police are expecting crowds to swarm area roads. Clarkesville alone is expecting 200,000 visitors, while Nashville anticipates 50-75,000 tourists. An estimated 360,000 people will visit Tennessee to view the eclipse along the path of totality. Increased traffic is expected to begin ahead of the weekend and continue after the eclipse. THP has police from other parts of the state ready to lend a hand in Middle Tennessee in case of emergency situations. The police will out in full force and working overtime. TDOT help trucks will also be on duty.

Law enforcement officials expect that the most dangerous period will be during the eclipse itself as unprepared drivers pull over on the highways or take selfies while driving. Multiple distracted drivers make for motor mishaps! If you plan to travel to a viewing location, avoid the rush and mayhem. In light of the most recent tourist estimates:

Leave a day ahead as Interstates 65 and 75 may be parking lots on the morning of the eclipse.

Here is another tip to make your trip easier—Use NavbugTN to track current road conditions and avoid tie-ups and accidents: https://www.navbug.com/tennessee_traffic.htm More tech help is available at Waze, and you can download it here. Just remember that there should be one driver and one navigator in the car if you use your phone on the road.

Whether you travel or just stay at home to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime event, stay safe!

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