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State fair's Orange Lot to get $27 million makeover to add parking, improve traffic flow

A $27 million project to pave the Orange Lot at the New York State Fairgrounds will begin this fall, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo./ Render provided by the governor's office.

A $27 million project to pave the Orange Lot at the New York State Fairgrounds will begin this fall, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

In a release, Cuomo's office announced Monday the project would be complete in time for the 2018 edition of the State Fair, which begins on August 22, 2018.

The 65-acre Orange Lot is currently unpaved and loses as much as 30 percent of its parking capacity during wet weather, according to the governor's office. Traffic flow in and out of the lot has also proved problematic at times over the last several years during high-attendance days at the State Fair and during concerts at Onondaga County's Lakeview Amphitheater.

The paving project will attempt to address those problems, the governor's office said. Among the changes will be an increased parking capacity, new drainage fixtures, a redesigned intersection from Exit 7 on Interstate 690 with a new traffic signal and a new exit from the west end of the Orange lot to I-690 westbound.

"For a century, the fairgrounds went virtually unchanged, and in just a few short years, New York has completely upgraded and transformed this historic attraction into a world class, multi-use operation," Governor Cuomo said in a release. "Transforming the Orange Lot is critical in our efforts to complete the Fair's modernization, and will provide much needed additional capacity as we continue to attract more and more visitors to the grounds and to Central New York as a whole."

When the paving project is complete, the State and Onondaga County will enter a long-term agreement for shared use of the lot.

When that project is complete, additional changes for the Orange Lot, referred to by the governor's office as "Phase II," are tentatively planned to eliminate the temporary traffic signal installed on I-690 during the Fair. They would feature redesigned on- and off-ramp access from the Route 695 South interchange, a new bridge to create direct access to I-690 east from the Orange Lot and a new pedestrian bridge from the western portion of the Orange Lot to the fairgrounds, according to the governor's office.

Funding for Phase II has not yet been allocated and no timeline has been set.

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