Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, agency heads lay out plans for April 8 solar eclipse

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Preparations are underway for the April 8 eclipse across multiple Arkansas agencies.

Saying the eclipse has the “potential to be one of the largest tourism events in state history,” Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders and agency heads presented plans and preparations during a Monday morning news conference. Sanders said the number of visitors to the state was projected to be anywhere from 300,000 to 1.5 million.

The state has established a portal webpage for eclipse information at, the governor said.

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Arkansas Department of Transportation Director Lorie Tudor said her agency had been planning for the eclipse for two years and expects peak activity on state highways from April 5 to 9.

Other accommodations being made include preparation for parallel routes for possibly clogged highways, as well as ARDOT and vehicles equipped with emergency food and gasoline for travelers positioned strategically around the state. Tudor also said that ARDOT is holding a construction holiday over the four days to keep lanes open and is working with trucking companies to avoid wide loads on those days.

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Department of Parks Heritage and Tourism director Shea Lewis went down a fairly long list of how that agency is preparing for the influx, including state parks and promoting local events. He echoed Sanders’ statement about this being the largest tourism event in state history.

The state has 26 parks in the totality path, Lewis said, and each had planned special activities for April 8. The agency had also established thresholds for people and vehicles in order to avoid overcrowding.

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Secretary of Education Jacob Olivia said that the eclipse will be a learning event for all students in Arkansas. Training is ongoing for teachers to ensure the eclipse is a learning event for students, he said.

Oliva added that some preparations include light-sound equipment from Harvard that will allow blind students to experience the eclipse. He said 103 school districts are scheduled to be closed on the eclipse day.

Director of the Division of Emergency Management A.J. Gary said the state emergency center will be open the day of the eclipse in order to quickly coordinate emergency response should the need arise. He also reminded that his agency has a eclipse information web portal.

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Department of Health Secretary Renee Mallory said her department was coordinating with ambulance services and first responders should a traumatic event take place. The department was also working for safety at mass gathering events, such as festivals to make sure food vendors, for example, are aware of what is required to get a permit from her department.

The Department of Human Services will be operational that day, Secretary Kristi Putnam said, adding that workers are being encouraged to prepare for remote work. The agency has planned for level six shelter and food assistance if emergency response is needed, she said.

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Officials noted multiple times during the conference was pointed out that accommodations for still available for visitors experiencing the Natural State for the eclipse. For a list of open accommodations or to see more information on state preparations for the event, head to

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