Local and state officials are bracing for a surge in traffic later this week once the North Carolina State Fair begins welcoming visitors.
The fair opens Thursday and runs through Oct. 25. The fair sees about 900,000 fair goers each year. But with the weather expected to be beautiful over the next few weeks, fair officials anticipate an especially high turnout this year.
State Highway Patrol spokesman Jeff Gordon says more than 100 state troopers will be on hand to guide traffic. Gordon says his department advises most of those attending the fair to take the Wade Avenue exit from I-40 to Edwards Mill Road, so they can “sneak up on the backside of the fairgrounds.” He says there will be congestion in the area, especially on the weekends. But it will likely be better than if folks try to take Hillsborough Street, Gordon says.
One thing Gordon and the N.C. Department of Transportation are not advising fair-goers to do is to travel through the Fortify construction zone on I-40. The interstate has been reduced to three lanes through much of the Fortify zone and is a bottleneck on the best of days. Adding fair traffic is likely to add to the delays. “We don’t want fair goers to even see the Fortify zone if we can help it,” says NCDOT spokesman Steve Abbott.
Instead, Abbott says those coming into Raleigh from the eastern part of the state should travel around the city on I-440 in the opposite direction to avoid having to go through the Fortify zone.