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PRINEVILLE, Ore. -- Despite the total solar eclipse still being days away, heavy traffic in Central and Eastern Oregon started mid-day Wednesday and continued Thursday.
This is just the beginning. About 1 million people are projected to visit the state of Oregon to see the total solar eclipse Monday.
The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office expects about 30,000 people to arrive in Central Oregon Thursday, then 37,000 Friday, 44,000 Saturday, and 43,000 Sunday.
The vast majority of those people are expected to leave Monday afternoon and Tuesday.
In Madras, traffic was picking up Thursday but so far there were no traffic jams. The town of about 6,000 is considered one of the best viewing locations in the nation and is expecting at least 100,000 people to pass through over the next four days.
Prineville police reported Thursday that traffic headed to the Symbiosis eclipse festival remains clogged from east of Prineville to the event in the Ochoco National Forest. On Thursday, traffic was backed up for 15 miles, Oregon State Police tweeted.
Police and the Oregon Department of Transportation rerouted festival traffic in Prineville due to a standstill on Highway 26. They plan to send people on a another route to Big Summit until Highway 26 is no longer blocked.
Thirty thousand people are expected to attend the five-day festival that starts Thursday.
Prineville changed its traffic lights to favor east-west traffic during the eclipse.
The Ochoco National Forest on Thursday tweeted a video of traffic at a standstill on Highway 26 near the Ochoco Reservoir, east of Prineville.
"Event coordinators are working fast to get people into the event, and will work all night and into tomorrow to do so. Please be patient, you will be there soon," police said.
Motorists were advised to stay in the their vehicles during traffic delays, and to not drive in wrong lanes of travel.
In Eastern Oregon, Tripcheck showed heavy traffic Thursday morning on U.S. 395 from the community of Dale to Middle Fork Lane. Traffic was also heavy in the Burns area on 395 and around John Day on 395 and Oregon 26.
For months, ODOT has warned that the eclipse would lead to the "biggest traffic event in Oregon history." ODOT recommends travelers leave early, be patient and be prepared.
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