Cell service, traffic, rental cars: Central Texas leaders give heads up before eclipse


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Roughly a week before thousands and thousands of visitors are expected to head to Central Texas to view the total eclipse, Austin and Travis County leaders are warning the public about possible impacts.

“This is really a once in a lifetime event for Central Texas. Our community has a chance to really view something spectacular and we want everyone to do that safety, to prioritize their well being and to know how to prepare,” Mayor Kirk Watson said.


Ken Snipes, Austin’s director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, noted Austin has several major events this weekend alongside additional eclipse traffic, which Snipes compared to an F1 weekend or the number of people in town for South by Southwest.

“It’s going to be a very busy weekend. We have a soccer match at Q2 Stadium, we have the Rosedale Ride, we have the Cap10K race and country music, the CMT awards, among other events that are happening that weekend,” Snipes said.

Snipes said hotel occupancy in Austin is hovering around 77% in Austin’s downtown area from Saturday through Monday night and that hotel rates are up by roughly 48% over this time last year.

Because of the influx of visitors, Snipes said Austinites should avoid non-essential travel, plan to leave much earlier than usual if they do travel on April 8 and have a plan in case cell phone service becomes limited due to the number of people in town.

“If you need to take care of routine activities like refueling or getting groceries we ask that you do so in advance,” Snipes said.

Austin airport officials also warned about busy travel in and out of the airport surrounding the eclipse, specifically April 9 — the day after.

“We’re expecting that day to exceed levels that we would typically see during this time of year,” Sam Haynes with the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport said. “And in fact, our rental car operators have let us know that they are 100%, fully booked, for available rental cars on April 8.”

Travis County

Travis County Judge Andy Brown signed a disaster declaration last month tied to the eclipse “to ensure that our first responders have the resources necessary and the abilities to protect health, safety and welfare of all of our residents and visitors.”

He clarified in a news conference Tuesday that the declaration was simply a precaution and could help first responders better patrol and navigate traffic.

“Be early, or plan to be late,” Brown recommended if you plan to travel for the eclipse.


It’s not just Central Texas bracing for the impact of visitors during the eclipse, state leaders are also preparing.

“We expect a million or more people to visit the state of Texas to see the eclipse and that’s going to mean a substantial increase in traffic volumes on our major corridors,” said Brad Wheelis with the Texas Department of Transportation.

“Here in Austin, I-35, SH-71, US-290, US-183, our major corridors could see gridlock,” Wheelis added.