Raleigh, N.C. — The North Carolina Department of Transportation stepped in Saturday in an effort to ease traffic in west Raleigh for those headed to and from the State Fair and for those who simply want to avoid the mess fair crowds create.
The ramp from westbound Wade Avenue to Blue Ridge Road was scheduled to be closed Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Drivers headed to the fair from the north and east were urged to use exit Interstate 440 at Lake Boone Trail and take it west to Blue Ridge Road south to the fairgrounds. From the south and west, drivers were directed to exit Wade Avenue at Edwards Mill Road.
Saturday marks the beginning of the final weekend of the fair's 11-day run in 2012, and thanks to perfect fall weather, big crowds are likely both days.
Through Friday, more than 700,000 people had visited the 143rd edition of the State Fair, with the high attendance mark so far coming on the opening Saturday when 118,433 people passed through the gates.
A third consecutive year with more than 1 million visitors may be a bit out of reach despite the perfect fall weather. More than 136,000 people will need to attend both Saturday and Sunday for the fair to equal its performances in 2010 and 2011.
In 2010, the fair set an attendance record when 1,091,887 people attended. A year ago, that number dipped slightly to 1,009,173. On Friday, as skies cleared in advance of the weekend, more than 92,000 people turned out.