HANCOCK COUNTY — The upcoming eclipse is still some seven weeks away, however local and state law enforcement and road officials are asking people to start planning now for one of the biggest astronomical events in several years.

Scientist note the 2017 total solar eclipse was the first to touch the “Lower 48” since 1979 and the first to span the United States from coast-to-coast since 1918. The next total solar eclipse is coming to North America, right over Indiana, Monday, April 8, and law enforcement want people to plan ahead.

“We want to make sure people are prepared for what we believe will be very heavy traffic,” Greenfield Police Department Deputy Chief, Chuck McMichael said.

McMichael noted Indiana is expecting to see about a million visitors to the state to view the eclipse and people should prepare for that.

“Eastern Indiana is will be one of the best places to see it,” McMichael said. “With Interstate 70 and U.S. 40 running through our city, we expect to see a large increase of people and traffic.”

Officials with the Indiana State Police and The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) say nearly 4 million Hoosiers live within the path of totality, with hundreds of thousands of people expected to visit Indiana for the event.

Increased traffic and congestion are expected as residents and tourists alike make their way to viewing destinations. Areas near the eclipse center-line are anticipated to see the greatest influx of visitors, including Vincennes, Bloomington, Franklin and just north of Richmond. Indianapolis and Evansville are also included in the path.

The City of Greenfield is planning a few events at local parks for people to congregate to watch this once-in-a-lifetime event for our area. People can visit the eclipseinhancock.org website which contains a lot of information already about local events.

“We do encourage everyone who is planning to have an event to register the event and complete a permit at that website,” McMichael said. “The permitting is free and allows us to make better plans for traffic control and response should an incident occur during this time.”

While most people will be thrilled, looking up to check out the happening, law enforcement will be focused on the ground with traffic being their major concern.

“Traffic will be very heavy immediately after the event is over,” McMichael said. “We want people, especially those who are traveling, to be prepared and expect to be stuck in traffic.”

Officials are advising people to make sure they have plenty of fuel in their vehicle, or fully charged if driving an electric vehicle.

“Have ways to charge your portable electronics and have water and snacks,” McMichael said.

Officials say I-70 and U.S. 40 will be the main travel routes for all of East Central Indiana, and drivers need to be ready for that.

“If there is an incident on I-70 (crash, etc.) then State Road 9 and U.S. 40 will get bogged down quickly,” McMichael said. “This event will cover the majority of Indiana, not just our area, so traffic all over the state will be impacted.”

Capt. Robert Harris of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department said administrators have been attending regular planning meetings with other local organizations in Hancock County to prepare for the total solar eclipse.

“At this time, we ask that people plan ahead, avoid travel near the time of the eclipse, and have plenty of patience,” Harris said. “We also remind people to not park in farm fields, private property, or anywhere else unless they have permission.”

The eclipse will be visible over a large portion of the state, with the path of totality spanning from Evansville to the outskirts of Fort Wayne, entering southwest Indiana at 3:01 p.m. EDT/2:01 p.m. CDT and exiting to the northeast at 3:12 p.m. EDT/2:12 p.m. CDT.

People can visit numerous websites from the ISP and INDOT to get the latest safety information before and during the day of the eclipse.

Check out eclipse2024.in.gov; visitindiana.com/eclipse2024; greatamericaneclipse.com/indiana-2024-eclipsescience.nasa.gov for information.