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NC State Fairgrounds Location

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I'm sure that others have thought of the same thing, but it seems that the state fairgrounds is out of place in it's current location. Several decades ago, when Raleigh was not as developed, this location made sense. With all of the development that has taken place in that area and is planned to take place, it seems like the fairgrounds should be in a different location. What are your thoughts?

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I'm sure that others have thought of the same thing, but it seems that the state fairgrounds is out of place in it's current location. Several decades ago, when Raleigh was not as developed, this location made sense. With all of the development that has taken place in that area and is planned to take place, it seems like the fairgrounds should be in a different location. What are your thoughts?

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It is in as good a location as any in Raleigh. Roads are at capacity in the region and no matter where it is it would cause traffic headaches. They did the right thing by not scheduling any football games or Cane's games during the fair. All of the parking out there at those two venues helps the situation. Also, 40, Wade and 440 are as good of roads that we have around here to handle the traffic. I think in years past the Amtrak stops in front of the fairgrounds for out of towners. Imagine if the regional rail idea worked here. How much better would it be if people could ride from all parts of thee area on a rapid transit system to drop off people there. Oh well...

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Can you suggest a better location? I can't...Parking really isn't a problem, unless there are other events out there, which they have avoided the last few years. It would be nice if they'd build a permanent station out there to accomodate folks coming by train...

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Location's fine...good amt of space and parking (overflowing onto Carter-Finley and RBC Center's). Of course, as someone else already said, as long as there's no other events going on.

Road capacity is the main issue....but mostly because folks don't take the right roads. They really need to stress that Edwards Mill exit off Wade is the true best way to get there. And I'd definitely like to see NC 54/ Hillsborough be a full four lanes from 40 to 440, as opposed to the 4-2-4 again like it is now.

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I feel it is in a good spot, it's the traffic that is the problem, I avoid this area during the fair. I think they should make that part of Hillsborough street four lanes or at least make a right lane turn only lane like the one that turns traffic onto Blue Ridge.

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Does anyone know what the right of way situation is between the tracks and the fairgrounds along hillsborough west of Blue Ridge? I know eminant domain can get what it needs but the railroad does not budge easily if it has alot of land in there (not sure who owns the spot where all those logs are) and any movement towards the farigrounds cuts into that smallish southside parking lot. Also the Westover community predates the fairgrounds and teh buildings through there would need to be acquired and knocked down and the rail bridge connecting Hillsborough and the Western/Jones Franklin/Buck Jones/Chatham area would need replaced. All this makes me think widening Hillsborough next the fairgrounds is not easy or even worth it....

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I pass through the Westover area quite frequently as I live nearby. I can say with certainty that there is plenty of room to widen Hillsborough Street by the Fairgrounds to a four-lane cross section, plus a median, plus bike lanes, plus 8-foot sidewalks on both sides, plus even a bit of streetscaping if the money can be found, without taking out any buildings. Measuring on Google Maps, there's about 100 feet between buildings at the narrowest point, and eyeballing it on foot that seems about right. A couple of businesses (notably Burke Bros Hardware) would lose their front parking lots, but they all have side parking lots as well so that's not too big of a loss.

Rather than aligning the widened hillsborough street into its current alignment under the tracks, I would align the widened Hillsborough into the already 4-laned NC 54. Bring the road under the tracks to a T-intersection with the new widened road.

NCDOT might try to take the buildings anyway to have a "buffer" between cars and any immovable objects, but that would be a huge shame as that would kill this neat little commercial area that is still quite viable (Burke Bros rules.)

Here's my google map of what this would look like:

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^Great job there, Orulz. You should work for DOT! ;)

I definitely like the alignment of 54...I always thought it was silly that ya kinda have to turn to stay on it, there. Your configuration would do well to make a smooth 4-lanes all the way from 40 to 440, which 54 has always needed. It sorta reminds me how they fixed (somewhat) that mess of Buck Jones/Jones Franklin/Western, by moving Buck Jones to a T at the shopping center.

To provide more of the "buffer" between the businesses and the road, I suppose you could get rid of the median from the split to Youth Center Drive, and just make it 4 lanes (like Wade ITB)....although I'm sure there are both pros and cons to that.

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Pretty much all of West Raleigh is a connectivity nightmare. As you point out, The Buck Jones - Jones Franklin - Western Boulevard - Hillsborough Street area was improved a bit when the Buck Jones / Jones Franklin intersection was made into a 'T'. The design functions, but too many roads come together at essentially a single point, and the Western Boulevard - Cary Towne Blvd connection will only make that worse. The Edwards Mill Extension may help things, but then it may make it worse, too.

It would be nice to completely rip out a lot of the existing development and re-align all the streets into a sensible grid, but realistically, there are too many homes and businesses there for that to happen.

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^^That funky alignment is a vestige of the road history in the area. I don't have all the details down exactly but a combination of known history and inferences yields this story:

Pre railroad (1850's and before). Hillsborough Road led west through here. It split at Meredith College into a lower and middle Hillsborough Road, the lower one being the one we are discussing. In Cary this same road path reconnects to existing 54 under a old train bridge like the one here by the water tower. It passes The Nancy Jones house (c. 1820) and goes through Morrisville and Durham and eventually to Hillsborough.

Railroad through early automobile (circa Great depression). Still a dirt road lower Hillsborough essentially followed the tracks. The alignment was north of them until the modern water tower near Westover where it crossed. It stayed south until near Cary it crossed to the north side again. I believe based on terrain, that it dove to the southside again in Morrisville along what is now called Church St, then went north again where it becomes Miami Blvd. I have found some archeologocal evidence to support this belief.

Great Depression onward: The WPA funded things like railroad bridges. The one in Westover and the One at Durham Rd in Cary I beleive both date to then. NC 54, aka Chapel Hill Road was added in its current alignment sometime after the 1950's according to this website. The Bevers map from 1871 also shows the tracks and Hillsborough crossing at these places.

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I am not sure where it would be put? Smithfield ? I think it is in the perfect place. What would be built there? Apartments? Can barely even build around the arena, let alone at the fairgrounds. Also, no way they knock down Dorton Arena....it is here to stay.

The fairgrounds offers a local place to hold the flea market every weekend along with car and boat shows and other items. I like it in the city and the more urban the surrounding areas become, even better. I also like the fact it is near a proposed transit corridor. Even better.

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I went to the fair last night and had a good time. The "history of the fair" exhibit, hidden behind the Village of Yesteryear was interesting. It showed the former locations (East Hargett and Tarboro, the race track where the Rose Garden is now north of Hillsborough Street, and its current location) as well as posters, newspaper clippings, etc. over the years. The history kind of stops around the mid 60s, which is kinda dissapointing. I noticed there was always a race track attached to the fair grounds until last year, but few people seem to be upset by this. The grandstrand is still there, but it only overlooks the adjacent straightaway now.

With all the changes they've made over the last few years -- removed the racetrack to make way for a larger midway (with a new set of bathrooms and Red Cross building), the exposition center north of the Jim Graham building, etc. -- they're not going anywhere. The vet school/Carter-Finley/RBC Center lots provide plenty of parking and the train stop (which should have some sort of permanent structure) is convenient as well.

The only road that needs improving is Hillsborough, and Orulz's plan makes all kinds of sense while preserving the surrounding neighborhood's structures. That might help for the weekend flea market traffic for the rest of the year as well.

The train tracks limit the number of ways to get from Hillsborough to Western Blvd. The dead space created by the Fairgrounds, Vet School, stadium/arena complex, etc. reduces the traffic in the area on non-event days, making it difficult to justify doing too much in the area.

The fair complex could move to the Dix land while preserving the existing offices for Health and Human Services, mental health facilities, adding Agriculture department offices, combining the Farmers Market with the flea market, and preserving the Grove and other natural areas of the land. Put the horse complex out there too. Maybe a permanent Ferris Wheel that overlooks downtown, etc. A true destination park that also hosts the fair. Let people park downtown on the weekend and take the bus/train/streetcar/tram to the fair!

That would free up the east third of the current state fair land closest to Blue Ridge for a "West End" residential/retail/biotech offices/research cluster in partnership with the vet school. The rest for a park, surrounding the lake, etc. for a botanical garden (the garden at the fair was nice, but could be a lot bigger. West Park would be an untouched oasis destination park -- a short walk to the train station and non-event parking available at the stadium complex and West End. When Carter-Finely is replaced by another facility in 20ish years (downtown or Centennial Campus), the park could be expanded and connect to the Reedy Creek Greenway and on to the Museum of Art's park. Mid rise buildings would go from 40 Wade along Trinity, Hillsborough, replacing the former Horse Complex to Blue Ridge and south along Blue Ridge towards Western Blvd.

There is no way this will happen, since there are too many entities involved (state govt, NCSU, city/county, etc.). And the "all park" people would never want a true destination like the state fair ruining their "clean slate" park.

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There is a "History of the NC State Fair" book that I was perusing at one of the DOA exhibit booths last week. So the reason they moved from the Raleigh Rose Garden area out to the current location is that the Fair from 1858 until 1926 was owned by a private company (the "State Agricultural Society" or something like that) that basically was kept alive through decades of hit or miss management and promotion by the largesse of a few well connected and wealthy members like Josephus Daniels. Well, in 1926 the private company went belly up, sold its land to developers (thus the subdivision name of "Fairmont") and the Fair disappeared for a few years. Eventually the General Assembly bailed it out, the Department of Agriculture took it over, and you know the rest of the story...Horse racing was the key component of the Fair at its prior locations, one that has essentially disappeared in the current incarnation.

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There seem to be several horse farms around the state, and there is the horse complex just west of the fair grounds. But horse racing in the state has all but died. Even the Brookhill Steeplechase was canceled this year due to the uncertantity of the future of the farm.

If the state can get into the lottery business, why not horse racing? Virginia has Colonial Downs and now we only have bleacher overlooking the former front stretch. For a while I thought the horse track might be used for dirt car/motorcycle racing to the fair (or year round) but that didn't happen either.

The flea market is nice (and gun/knife/boat shows have to go somewhere), but it seems a lost opportunity for the space the other 11 months of the year.

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They really need to just build a parking deck over there to service the RBC Center and Fairgrounds. Parking for any event over there can be such a royal pain. Also more sidewalks along the major thoroughfares so you don't feel like you're walking in the gutter about to be plowed over by a bus, car, or distracted tractor trailer driver.

On topic with the master plan, I really do like how it appears they are trying to strip out a lot of the asphalt/concrete that exists now and replace it with landscaping:

http://www.ncstatefair.org/masterplan/NC%2...in%20Campus.pdf

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They really need to just build a parking deck over there to service the RBC Center and Fairgrounds. Parking for any event over there can be such a royal pain. Also more sidewalks along the major thoroughfares so you don't feel like you're walking in the gutter about to be plowed over by a bus, car, or distracted tractor trailer driver.

On topic with the master plan, I really do like how it appears they are trying to strip out a lot of the asphalt/concrete that exists now and replace it with landscaping:

http://www.ncstatefair.org/masterplan/NC%2...in%20Campus.pdf

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