Maine DOT releases eclipse traffic numbers

By Ethan Andrews, Bangor Daily News Staff

Traffic on Maine’s highways was way above average around the solar eclipse but the total number of visitors to Maine may have been fewer than expected.

A preliminary report from the Maine Department of Transportation found that traffic volumes were 10 to 20 times higher than normal.

Traffic engineers estimate that 15,000 additional vehicles came to Maine to witness the eclipse and more people traveled within Maine to witness the totality, which was visible in a band across the western and northern part of the state.

Houlton, an Aroostook County town of fewer than 6,000 year-round residents, had expected crowds of up to 40,000 for the once-in-a-lifetime cosmic spectacle. But on Monday, local event organizers estimated the actual number of visitors was closer to 20,000.

Traffic varied Monday afternoon and evening with stopped traffic on many of the smaller routes leading out of the path of totality and higher volumes but steady speeds on Interstate 95.

“Even though there were traffic delays on state highways as people headed home from the path of totality, we are pleased to report that our state did not experience any major traffic safety incidents related to the eclipse,” Paul Merrill, Maine DOT’s public Information officer, wrote in a news release. 

Additional traffic counts are not expected to be available until after this week, according to Maine DOT.

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