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Jefferson City area officials say eclipse event went off smoothly

Jefferson City area officials say eclipse event went off smoothly

August 22nd, 2017 by Jeff Haldiman in Local News

Although the state shut down offices and traffic was altered around Missouri's Capitol for a once-in-a-lifetime event, Monday was a fairly normal day for Jefferson City motorists.

Monday's total solar eclipse attracted a large number of visitors in the downtown area, but traffic flowed without much difficulty. Through noon, the Missouri Department of Transportation reported traffic was moving at a normal pace on the main highways in Mid-Missouri.

Authorities and transportation officials credited prior planning for the lack of problems they faced Monday.

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"Everything progressed as we had hoped," Jefferson City Police Chief Roger Schroeder said. "We're used to managing large, well-populated events. We've been a part of a much larger planning group, who have been meeting for several months. It was a team effort; and that most often pays off with an enjoyable, organized series of activities. Our sergeants, officers and communications operators have worked some long shifts this weekend, but they didn't complain because they knew the level of importance the eclipse was to our city."

Some traffic issues cropped up in other parts of town, said JCPD Lt. Dave Williams, in charge of putting together the traffic plan for the event.

"We directed traffic for a short time at the intersections of Missouri Boulevard and Dunklin Street and at Missouri Boulevard and Delaware Street to facilitate traffic to merge onto U.S. 54," Williams said. "There was an accident just outside the city limits near the Southwood Hills overpass that caused congestion for a period of time, southbound. Around 3 p.m., we also worked a series of crashes in north Jefferson City near the U.S. 54/63 interchange. They were all reported as non-injury."

Roadside parks were prime viewing spots for the eclipse. The roadside park in Ashland, off U.S. 63, closed around 12:35 p.m., when MoDOT officials said it had reached the maximum number of cars that could park in the area. It reopened shortly after the eclipse.

"Traffic never stopped, but we did see slowdowns around the area of the U.S. 54/I-70 interchange at Kingdom City and around Route W and U.S. 54 at the Lake of the Ozarks, both after the eclipse," said MoDOT spokeswoman Sally Oxenhandler. "It looks like people heeded our advice on getting to places early and staying there until the eclipse was over."