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Traffic chiefs claim success over handling of eclipse


TRAFFIC MANAGERS in South West England were this week hailing their handling of the eclipse-inspired inundation of visitors to Devon and Cornwall a success.

A Devon and Cornwall Constabulary report on the operation to shepherd an estimated 1.1M visitors in and out of the region claimed that the M5 reached capacity just one and a half hours after the total eclipse.

At the same time, a 43 mile tailback developed on the A38, while record traffic flows along the A380 in South Devon caused by day trippers who diverted to escape gloomy weather in Cornwall was said to be close to causing 'gridlock'.

However, the Highways Agency and police claimed management measures used were 'no more than those needed on a normal summer Saturday'.

Post-eclipse traffic flows contrasted sharply with the smooth influx of eclipse seekers into the area in the five days before E-day.

'The steady influx of vehicles coming into the area was better than we dared hope,' said Agency South West area manager David Wright. 'We achieved a big swing to off peak period flows. It has shown that there is scope for achieving greater operational efficiency of our roads.'

An AA spokesman said: 'People did take the message to travel during off peak times to heart. But a lot of people then thought they could risk making a quick getaway. In future traffic managers will need to look again at how to plan for large numbers of people leaving a major event at the same time.'

Damian Arnold

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