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Drivers Go With the Flow During Special Olympics

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RALEIGH — The Triangle's population has expanded by about 32,000 people, thanks to athletes, coaches, family members and spectators who are in the area for theSpecial Olympics World Summer Games.

You would think that would add up to a traffic nightmare for locals. But there is good news -- so far it's not too bad.

Monday was the first day Triangle commuters and the thousands of Special Olympics supporters began sharing the road.

The 17 new cameras installed along I-40 and I-85 show that, for the most part, things are going smoothly.

According to theN.C. Department of Transportation, people got rolling about an hour earlier than usual Monday, so traffic was a bit heavier than normal. Some of those folks doubtless were Special Olympics athletes, spectators and volunteers.

But the overall effect wasn't as bad as had been anticipated.

Even though roadside message boards have remained blank most of the time, it doesn't mean backups haven't occurred.

"If it's something that happens every day, the sign will stay blank," according to DOT volunteer JoAnn Oerter. "Also, if the congestion is in an area where the sign is located it will stay blank because you know (the circumstances) if you're already sitting there. You don't need us to tell you you're going to be sitting there."

So far, the cameras have benefited stranded motorists the most. DOT officials are calling for help before drivers even step out of their cars.

DOT officials say the heaviest traffic has been around the airport, which isn't too surprising.

When DOT officials have used the message boards, they say they can see the traffic patterns change instantly.

All that technology really works well when it's used.

WRAL OnLine providestraffic updatesthroughout the day. Some roads have been closed until the Games end, including Dan Allen Drive, Cates Avenue and Morrill Street, all in Raleigh.

WRAL will broadcast nightly specials from 7:30 to 8 p.m. through Friday night. You can also catch a five-minute recap of the day's happenings every night after WRAL's 11:00 News. You can also watch it all on WRAL OnLine.

The World Games run through July 4.


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