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TREMONTON, Box Elder County — Drivers who thought leaving the "zone of totality" a day later than other eclipse-gazers would help them avoid heavy traffic coming out of Idaho got a surprise Tuesday morning: The southbound lanes of I-15 were just as crowded as the night before.
"It was like from all the way where I could see in the north to Tremonton, all the way to Brigham City,” Eric Marble said.
The Box Elder County resident couldn’t believe the amount of traffic he could see on I-15 from his house.
“That was definitely a sight to see,” he said.
Marble flies drones for his home-based company Marketing Spot On, and has flown before for search and rescue missions, real estate videos and even Box Elder County fair photos. But he knew this much traffic was something he may never see again.
So Marble flew his drone several times Tuesday afternoon to get video of all the vehicles.
"Out here in Box Elder County, it's so rural that your traffic jams are usually (when) you run into a shepherd that's moving his sheep or something like that,” Marble said with a laugh. “It’s never anything like this.”
It’s not just the amount of traffic; it’s how long all that traffic lasted. Twenty-four hours after the eclipse, it was still bumper to bumper.
"Even the back streets, they were jam-packed as well,” Marble said.
"I’ve worked with Utah Highway Patrol for 29 years in several different areas, and I have never seen anything to match the amount of traffic we've seen,” said UHP Lt. Lee Perry.
Every Highway Patrol trooper in Box Elder, Cache and Rich counties was called in to help work traffic control.
"It's been constant non-stop, and this is not normal traffic flow on a Tuesday afternoon going southbound on I-15 in Box Elder County,” Perry said. “We didn’t even barely write any tickets unless someone was doing something unsafe. We knew if we did it would delay traffic more. We just wanted to keep the flow going.”
Part of the problem Tuesday was that construction started up again on I-15 in Box Elder County, reducing two lanes to one. When it became apparent that wasn’t a good idea, construction was halted and the second lane was reopened.
Traffic started to get back to normal at about 6 p.m.