BRIGHAM CITY (ABC4 Utah News) – Thousands drove north to see the sun completely blocked by the moon…then found the roads completely blocked by traffic.
“Going up no problem,” Keith Jorgensen said Monday afternoon at a gas station along Interstate 15. “Coming back it was bumper to bumper.”
The Utah Department of Transportation estimates 41,000 vehicles left the Wasatch Front for Idaho and Wyoming the past few days and all of them seemed to be coming back at the same time, creating gridlock leaving Idaho Falls. Some drivers told ABC4 Utah News that the normally two and a half hour drive to Brigham City took more than twice that long this afternoon.
“Oh hell. It was absolutely terrible,” Tabitha Vanderpool said of her drive from Rigby, Idaho to Salt Lake City. “Nobody wanted to go the speed limit and everyone was very close to each other so anybody who wanted to go the speed limit or faster was pretty much pigeonholed into not being able to.”
UDOT spokesman John Gleason told ABC4 that unlike a football game or a concert they have no history or precedent with this but like a game or a concert some people did leave early to beat the traffic.
“We left about 10 to 15 minutes after the totality,” Orange, California resident Mike Redman said while fueling up. “And I think that’s what everyone else had planned too so we just ran right into it.”
Still many said that the hours of frustration on the road were overshadowed by the spectacular cosmic phenomenon.
Robin Miera of Kearns was making the journey from Idaho Falls home to Kearns.
“It was once in a lifetime and it was absolutely worth it,” Miera said. “We’ll take it.”