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Solar eclipse travel: Exploring alternate routes to Beatrice

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Posted at 6:52 PM, Aug 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-09 13:04:25-04

It’s typically about an hour and a half drive from Omaha to Beatrice, but with so many people on the interstate on Aug. 21, there could be major delays on solar eclipse day.

Alternate routes could save you some time, like Highway 50 to 136 with a stop-off in Tecumseh.

But what will those roads look like on Aug. 21?

"A lot of traffic, a lot of people," Johnson County Sheriff Scott Walton said.

Tens, if not hundreds of thousands of travelers traveling major interstates to the same narrow band of Nebraska means it's time to think alternatives.

”That would probably be the alternate route to Highway 77, off Interstate 80, is to take Highway 50 over on up to 136,” Doug Klaus, chief deputy sheriff for Gage County. “I mean some of that would obviously reduce that congestion. Keeping in mind that's a two-lane road all the way over here once you leave the interstate."

Planning ahead is essential.

”Leave early, be careful. I'm thinking our problems are going to be people parking on the side of the highway. Along the side of the highway," Walton said.

Experts advise leaving several hours early, know where you're parking ahead of time, and be prepared in case you’re stuck in your car for several hours.

For businesses along Highway 50, all the added traffic is a sweet treat. This is the route a lot of folks will take from Omaha and Lincoln, too.

And in Tecumseh, right at Highway 50 and 136x, the manager of this hotel says because of some cancellations they have at least two rooms that are available for the eclipse as of Tuesday. They started taking reservations for the eclipse weekend about a year ago.

”I mean there's been people who've speculated that this may be the end of the world, or people are speculating that it's just another day and we're making too much out of this. And I hope we are, I really do,” Klaus said. “But you should be prepared.”

Experts say another alternative route is to head down Highway 75 around Auburn or Fall City.