Raleigh - It's that time of year when kids of all ages lose sleep as they look forward to the thrills of the North Carolina State Fair. This year's event, called "Nothing Could Be Finer," takes place Oct. 15 through Oct. 25.
But getting there could take longer for fairgoers traveling on Interstate 40 in Raleigh, where construction crews have narrowed most of the westbound 8.5-mile stretch of highway to three lanes as part of the long-term Fortify Rebuild I-40 construction project.
Work is also underway in the eastbound lanes, and with I-40 being one of the heaviest traveled highways in the area, there is the potential for backups and delays.
"Hundreds of thousands of people flock to Raleigh each year during fair season, and traffic can get kind of messy -with or without construction," said Lt. Jeff Gordon with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol. "We advise people to pre-plan trips well in advance, be patient, and be aware of pedestrian traffic."
To get to the fairgrounds, Gordon recommends driving through the city or taking I-440 in the opposite direction to Wade Avenue, then exiting onto Blue Ridge Road or Hillsborough Street. For those traveling on I-40 East, the Highway Patrol recommends taking the Wade Avenue exit and then the Edwards Mill Road exit.
But fairgoers can skip the driving and parking hassle altogether by taking a bus or shuttle.
Fortify's travel partner, GoTriangle, now known as GoSmart, is offering extra services such as Park-and-Ride buses and a weekend shuttle service.
During the fair, lanes in the Fortify construction zone can only be closed for construction from midnight to 5 a.m. to avoid lane closures during peak travel times.
Work is expected to continue next week on I-40 West with lane shifts from the I-40/440 merge to Rock Quarry Road.
Remember to use I-440 to Wade Avenue as an alternative route to the fair.