Local News

Football and Elephants Clog Raleigh Traffic

Posted September 11, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT

— It was a traffic nightmare this afternoon in Raleigh as thousands of people made their way to the big football game, the circus and five other events scheduled at the State Fairgrounds.

There are more than 50,000 people at Carter-Finley to watch the N.C. State-Florida State game. Thousands more are attending five other events in the fairgrounds area. Add up all of those people and all of those cars, and it results in a serious case of gridlock.

It may be one of the busiest weekends ever at the state fairgrounds. 5,000 people shopped for bargains at the flea market. 3,500 window shopped at a boat show. Thousands more crowded under the big top at the circus.

2,000 people took a trip down memory lane at the toy and hobby show. Another 500 attended a Charity Horse Show. Plus, 2,000 people made the rounds at a train show.

"It took a long time to get here," one motorist said. "We've only been half a mile and it's been 30 minutes."

The total is more than 13,000 people within half a mile of each other, just hours before the crowds arrived for the football game.

Gridiron fans were caught in gridlock at most major intersections. Some had to hike to get where they were going.

"We drove all the way through one time, and then we circled all the way around and finally ended up parking across the tracks where the horse show parking is across the other side," football fan Keith Keelan said.

Others were not willing to walk. State troopers directed traffic, but that did not stop some people from sneaking in to a parking spot.

Most fans took the traffic jam in stride. One State student did not spend any time spinning her wheels.

"We've probably been in school too long, because we know all the back roads and we know how to get here with no problem," N.C. State student Heather Mallard said.

Most of the events at the fairgrounds have shut down for the day, and football fans faced another traffic jam when they head home after the game.