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NCDOT: follow signs, not phones

Officials address parking, traffic for upcoming World Equestrian Games

COLUMBUS — Officials from the North Carolina Department of Transportation stressed this week the importance of following signs, not phone and GPS to get to the Tryon International Equestrian Center for the World Equestrian Games.

NCDOT spokesperson David Uchiyama held a press conference in Columbus Wednesday afternoon and said spectators should know where they are going to park before they leave the house.

“Again, follow the signs, not your phone,” Uchiyama said.

Uchiyama said the NCDOT has been planning for over a year for the games.

The WEG begins Sept. 11 and ends Sept. 23.

“A lot of work has been done behind the scenes to prepare for who knows how many people,” Uchiyama said.

The first estimates were that 500,000 people total would attend, but those numbers are dropping. County officials are planning for between 20,000 and 30,000 people to attend per day.

“What NCDOT engineers have done is they have worked with the maximum number of people estimated to come in every day,” said Uchiyama. “We’d rather have more resources available, especially early on, and then scale back.”

No parking will be allowed on Pea Ridge Road or U.S. 74, with Uchiyama saying if someone parks there, the odds are their car will not be there when they return. 

“The goal for NCDOT is to keep traffic flowing as well as possible, especially on I-26 and U.S. 74,” said Uchiyama. “We want to make this as normal of a day as possible for those who live in the area; those who commute to work, those who take their kids to school, pick them up from school, take them to soccer games or who just want to go out to dinner at some point in time.”

The North Carolina Highway Patrol will have 40 troopers working each shift of the games and the NCDOT will have nine closed circuit TVs in place to monitor traffic. Some of the locations for the monitors will be the Green River Bridge, Pea Ridge Road, NC 9 and a couple in South Carolina.

There will also be 14 portable message boards with almost all of them telling drivers where to park.

Uchiyama said an example of a message board on U.S. 74 would be, “Equestrian Games, use exit 167.”

The address for spectator parking is 6881 S. NC Highway 9, Columbus.

The lot has capacity for 10,000 vehicles and shuttles from the Highway 9 lot will be running continuously, starting two and a half hours prior to competition and ending two and a half hours after the last competition every day.

Parking passes will only be available the day of parking, meaning there are no pre-purchases. The parking pass is $20 per day per car or $50 per day for oversized vehicles of 15 passengers or more.

There is the option to be dropped off at the venue either through Uber or friends. The parking lot on the north side of U.S. 74 is free of charge for drop-offs.

According to NCDOT, it is illegal to cross a state highway or interstate on foot, so no walking will be allowed that crosses through or underneath U.S. 74.

“Due to safety concerns, we do not encourage walking from nearby roads,” Uchiyama said.

Handicap parking will be available at the parking lot on Highway 9 with handicap stickers required to park closest to shuttles. A wheelchair accessible parking area will also be located at the parking lot on the north side of U.S. 74.