MassDOT to pause Memorial Avenue roadwork during The Big E

The countdown to The Big E is on. Opening day is exactly one month away. Gates at the Eastern States Exposition open on September 15.
Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 2:39 PM EDT
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WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The countdown to The Big E is on. Opening day is exactly one month away. Gates at the Eastern States Exposition open on September 15 and you can already see crews hard at work turning the fairgrounds into the mini city known as The Big E.

“On certain days, it’s the second largest city in Massachusetts,” said Gene Cassidy, president and CEO of the Eastern States Exposition.

With big attendance comes big traffic, so Western Mass News checked with West Springfield Police to get answers on what their plans are for traffic control.

“We’ve been doing this a long time, so we have our techniques in place and scheduling is almost complete,” said West Springfield Police Sgt. Joseph LaFrance.

LaFrance told Western Mass News that they’ve been gearing up the last few weeks by getting their motorcycle and mountain bike units ready to go and he confirmed that the Massachusetts Department of Transportation infrastructure project along Memorial Avenue will be paused during the fair. Also, no other construction projects will interfere with Big E traffic.

“All four lanes will be available during The Big E,” LaFrance noted.

He added that, although it’s a few years away from being completed, the construction happening along Memorial Avenue is expected to have a positive impact on Big E traffic. Lafrance pointed out that last year was the first year the construction on the Morgan-Sullivan Bridge was complete, which helped to alleviate a lot of backups for fairgoers. However, we’re still going to see those heavy traffic days along Memorial Avenue.

“150,000 attendees on a middle Saturday, there’s not much we can do. You just have to ride it out. It’s going to take a long time for traffic to filter in and filter out on those days. We have all of our other techniques in place as far as opening lanes diverting motorcycle units to help some of the traffic,” LaFrance explained.

With yet another rainy day in western Massachusetts on Tuesday, we were curious if there were any concerns that weather may impact attendance. Cassidy assured Western Mass News they still expect big numbers for this year’s fair.

“There’s these enormous tents, plus we have over half a million square feet in doors, so the rain has been a factor at The Big E since 1916 at the first on, so ya know, people get along just fine. Sometimes, you know, it may slow down traffic. A lot of people like to come on rainy days because they get great shopping, there’s not the crowds,” Cassidy explained.

If you’d like to buy your Big E tickets in advance, Rocky’s Ace Hardware will have them on sale for 20 percent off.

For more information on this year’s fair, CLICK HERE.