CORNISH ROADS will be closed as a 'last resort' if traffic congestion caused by seekers of the total eclipse of the sun endangers safety, the Highways Agency said last week.
A spokesman said that the decision would be taken in collaboration with the police if emergency vehicles were not able to flow freely in the run up to the event on 11 August.
The Agency hopes to avoid the worst case scenario and plans to run a public information campaign to advise drivers not to travel just before the eclipse.
Highways Agency area manager for Devon and Cornwall David Wright said: 'The message is don't travel on the day, but come early and stay late. Make a holiday out of it and use public transport if you can.'
Other congestion busting plans include a roadworks embargo on trunk roads, vehicle recovery facilities and signs on the South West's roads warning of delays. Traffic monitoring will ensure drivers are alerted via variable message signs as far back as the Midlands and the M25.
Three million pamphlets entitled Eclipse 99 - don't be kept in the dark, have already been distributed at motorway service stations and in supermarkets.
But AA spokesman Adrian Ruck warned: 'We have worked with the Highways Agency and there isn't a great deal more planning that could be done. If police estimates of 1-2M cars are right, the best planning in the world couldn't prevent severe traffic problems.'
(see Analysis, page 10)