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Vermont administration officials provide preliminary assessment of eclipse visitation

Vermont Statehouse
Vermont Statehouse

Administration officials reviewed what is known so far about how eclipse visitation affected Vermont before Governor Phil Scott was asked questions about legislative actions during his weekly briefing this afternoon.

Governor Scott noted that while there may have been more vehicles on the state’s roads than ever before for the April 8th eclipse, there were few incidents or accidents.

Agency of Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn detailed initial data on vehicle, train and aircraft congestion on the weekend prior and just after the eclipse.

He noted that agency data analysts are using a series of 29 counting stations across the state to track how many vehicles entered the state.

“We are seeing indications of an increase in vehicles of approximately 60,000,” Flynn said. “The modeling that we conducted with the University of Vermont indicates that traffic volume of that size are pointing towards 160,000 people. The modeling indicates, the modelers I should say, indicate 2.8 people per vehicle. On Monday, Interstate 89 from New Hampshire to Exit 16 in Colchester, southbound travel experienced immediate post-eclipse impacts taking until 2a.m. Tuesday, April 9th to return to normal speed. We can measure the speeds on the interstate. The average speed for this section of roadway was five miles per hour.”

Agency of Commerce and Community Development Secretary Lindsay Kurrle says business impacts will take some time to determine as economic data, including tax receipts, are reported to the state.

“April typically is the slowest time of the year for tourism in Vermont and we saw a significant boost as the Great American Eclipse drew people to our downtowns, our shorelines, our ski areas, filling our hotel rooms and our restaurants,” Kurrle noted. “We're employing various strategies to get as complete an economic picture as possible. But for now, what we can tell you is that our economy here in the state benefitted.”

Governor Scott, a Republican, was quizzed about several legislative actions including a new education funding proposal out of the House Ways and Means Committee.

“The good news is they have something on the table and acknowledging that we have a severe structural problem with our education system,” Scott said. “So that's, that's good news. The concerning aspect for me is that it really doesn't do anything about the property tax increase this year. Overall, I'm not objecting to what they came up with. I feel as though Vermonters need relief now, today, not two-three-four years from now.”

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