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N.Y. law enforcement agencies take to roads, water and air to handle influx of traffic for solar eclipse

Deputies with the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office will also be using their Air One helicopter and patrolling the county waterways by boat to help handle expected traffic problems from eclipse watchers

Solar Eclipse

Clouds cover a partial phase of solar eclipse, at the National Mall in Washington, Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Jose Luis Magana/AP

By Timia Cobb

Syracuse, N.Y. — New York state troopers from other areas of the state are working in Central and Northern New York today to help handle the expected traffic problems from eclipse watchers, officials said.

Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office and Syracuse police have added officers and patrols too.

More than a million people are expected to travel to New York state for the Monday afternoon solar eclipse, Gov. Kathy Hochul said at a Sunday news conference.

The eclipse starts a little after 2 p.m. for most of Upstate NY. In Syracuse, totality starts at about 3:23 p.m. and lasts about 90 seconds.

Troopers, Syracuse police and the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office have been planning for the eclipse for months.

Trooper Jack Keller, a spokesperson for the State Police, said the biggest concern is traffic. Troopers will be patrolling highways - especially the Thruway and Interstate 81 - to make sure things go smoothly as possible, he said.

State police are asking people to not pull over on the highway to watch the solar eclipse. He said troopers will be stationed along the interstates to make sure highway shoulders are clear. He also asked drivers not wear their eclipse glasses while driving.

“We’re just going to ask them to keep going, unless they have an issue with their car of course,” Keller said. “But, to stop just on the shoulder, because it’s a viewing spot and they don’t want to miss it, they’re going to be asked to continue and not stop.”

The sheriff’s office has increased patrols and will have every car available on the road, said Thomas Newton, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office.

Deputies will also be using their Air One helicopter and patrolling the county waterways by boat.

It is a little early in the year to take the boats out, Newton said.

“We’re not sure how many boats to expect,” Newton said. “If people are going to have their boats in the water in the beginning of April, but we’re going to be ready just in case.

Syracuse Police Chief Joseph Cecile said he expects traffic to be the biggest issue.

Police anticipate the biggest traffic problems to occur after the eclipse when people will be leaving the area all at the same time.

Cecile says they don’t expect complete chaos but hope everyone can plan ahead, park legally and be mindful while on the road.

“When the event is over with, people are probably going to be caught in lines, traffic, at lights, take it as a good opportunity while you’re in the car to just contemplate this event you just saw that you won’t see for another 375 years,” Cecile said. “Don’t get frustrated, take your time after the event as well.”

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