HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. (WKRN) – On August 21 and the weekend before, cities, towns and roads from Middle Tennessee to Western Kentucky will be filled with people hoping to get the best view of the total solar eclipse.
“It is a classic small town. It is nice. You know everybody.”
Tori Cornish lives in one small Kentucky town, right on the path, that may see thousands of new faces before the sky goes dark.
“The most traffic we get is getting stuck behind a tractor occasionally so it is going to be a lot,” said Cornish.
With eclipse spectators racing to both the Bluegrass and Volunteer states, law enforcement officers are expecting heavy traffic along rural roads and interstates.
“The question is whether you plan for 50,000 or do you plan for 200,000? Well, we would rather shoot for the stars,” said Captain Chris Miller with the Christian County Sheriff’s Department.
Miller says the department is going through all the possible things that could go wrong.
“We believe that if we kind of plan that in advance and kind of get that into our heads in advance, that if it does actually happen and Heaven forbid we hope it doesn’t, that we can semi be ready for that.”
He says they are beefing up their patrol to keep people moving along the roads.
“We will have about four to five times the amount of deputies out at one time than we normally do,” said Miller.
Miller needs drivers to be smart too and avoid stopping on highway shoulders and overpasses.
“Use common sense. If you need headlights at night, you are going to need headlights during that if it is driving.”
While the wide open farm land is helpful to viewers, it is also a challenge for deputies.
One of the biggest concerns for law enforcement in Kentucky and Tennessee is folks stopping along rural roads that don’t have shoulders but they do offer some of the best views of the eclipse.
Just 70 miles down Interstate 24, troopers in Tennessee will be out in full force across the roughly 40 counties along the path.
“Our plan is to have a trooper every five miles or so,” explained THP Major Matt Perry.
Perry says they are treating the traffic plan like inclement weather stretching across the state.
“It causes back-ups on interstates and other state routes.”
A big concern for law enforcement in both states is people chasing the eclipse or rushing to find a clear spot to see it if it turns cloudy in some areas.
“If it is overcast in Kentucky, all of those people try to work their way down to Tennessee. We just ask to do it in a calm and orderly fashion,” said Perry.
If you want to catch the once in a lifetime event, officers say find a place to park off the roadway.
“Before you get here, plan it. Get you a spot so that you can leave those roadways open for us and emergency people,” explained Miller.
Those in towns like Fredonia hope you will stop and take in the views of the valley while you are there.
“We do homemade desserts so I know that we will be loaded to the brim,” said Cornish.