COLUMBIA, SC – The University of South Carolina’s homecoming game Saturday will be going on while the State Fair has a typical Saturday crowd, which will mean a traffic nightmare. How bad will it be? SC Highway Patrol Capt. Ricky Grubbs says, “It gets extremely bad. We’ll probably have 150,000 people in just that one area up there.”
It’s not unusual for a USC home game to overlap the State Fair, but Capt. Grubbs says the Highway Patrol doesn’t do anything differently when they do. “We run about 100 troopers per game, and it’ll be the same number for this game.”
“Before the ballgame, coming out of the city we have three lanes on Assembly Street. We have one lane that’s dedicated to going back toward town. And on Bluff Road, we dedicate three lanes into the stadium and one lane out, once the traffic gets heavy enough where we can do that,” he says. “Now after the ballgame, we have all lanes on Assembly headed out. Every lane on Assembly’s headed out. And on Bluff Road, we have all lanes headed toward I-77.”
Willie Johnson and his wife Naomi brought their twin granddaughters, Tomeka and Tamara Rice, to the fair Friday. Tomeka says, “Traffic was going to be bad tomorrow so we decided to come through today, when it’s not that much traffic and it’s easy to get through.”
They had to go an extra 35 miles around a detour because of a closed road near their house. All interstates are open and none of the roads around the fairgrounds and Williams-Brice stadium are closed, but the SCDOT suggests you check their website before you leave to see if there are any road closures on your route. That website is www.scdot.org
Because of the traffic, the State Fair announced Friday it will stop selling admission tickets at 7 p.m. Saturday, which is when the game is expected to be over. “We don’t want to add to the traffic congestion by having people trying to get down to the fair when people are trying to leave the football game,” said State Fair Manager Gary Goodman.
The fair will remain open until 10 p.m. Saturday. Gates will open at 10 a.m. and the Fairgrounds parking lot will open at 9:30 a.m.
Capt. Grubbs says even if the fair didn’t stop selling tickets, no one would be able to get to the fairgrounds at 7 anyway because all the lanes of traffic will be going away from the stadium and fair.