Obama’s Back in Town, Bringing Fewer Traffic Headaches

President Obama has come to town on Friday for a Barbara Boxer rally and airspace, downtown streets are restricted all day. Last time was a nightmare

Last Updated: October 22, 2010 @ 4:57 PM

(Updated: 4:00 p.m. PT)

After bringing Los Angeles to a standstill for last summer's presidential vist, it appears the White House has learned its lesson.

Instead of having President Barack Obama travel throughout the city by motorcade, the president made liberal use of his Marine One helicoptor. 

So far the gambit seems to have worked. A live Google traffic map showed that wide swaths of green, indicating few tie-ups while the president hopscotched from LAX to USC to Burbank (see above).

Commuters may have had relatively smooth sailing, but flyers were held up while the president travelled. The FAA has placed a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) on all Los Angeles air space from 10:30 am to 5 pm, a spokesman told TheWrap.

As the afternoon wore on, major airlines were grappling with flights to LAX that were delayed upwards of an hour.

During “certain times” in that window he said, “only law enforcement aircraft and air ambulance aircraft will be able to fly within eight-mile radiuses of LAX and downtown Los Angeles, and within a 10 mile radius of Burbank Airport.”

Instead of travelling along the freeways as he did this summer, the president landed at LAX on Friday and was transported to a rally for Senate incumbent Barbara Boxer at USC by Marine One helicoptor, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Some 30,000 people were expected to turn up to see the president speak at the USC campus.Marine One landed at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum at approximately 11:30 a.m. From USC, Obama will again travel by helicopter to Bob Hope Airport in Burbank for an interview at Univision's Glendale studios.

The area around downtown – where the rally will be held – is shut down from 9:30 a.m. to 2:50 p.m., according to the LAPD. Parts of the 134 Freeway will also be shut down while the president's motorcade travels from the Bob Hope Airport to Univision's studios.

Last time the president came to town in August, he caused the most severe traffic jam in recent memory. While Democratic donors hung out with him at television producer John Wells’ house, many thousands of furious Los Angeles residents were stuck in traffic.

And when Vice President Joe Biden flew in for a Jay Leno appearance in July, LAX was effectively shut down for four hours on a Friday evening.

See previous: Biden's Leno Stop Clogs LAX; Passengers Furious

Private planes can forget it. A spokeswoman at Santa Monica airport said all air space is closed down above Los Angeles from 10:30 to 12 pm this morning, and again between 4 pm and 5 pm, because of Obama’s movements.

The Los Angeles Police Department is hoping to avoid the hours long traffic jams that greeted the president’s August fundraier in mid-city Los Angeles. It doesn’t sound like police conducted a very rigorous post-mortem on what went wrong that time, however.

“No changes have been made to the way we’re conducting things this time,” LAPD spokesman Officer Gregory Baek told TheWrap. “We are hoping to be much much better than last time. This time the impacted area is smaller so there will be less impact on traffic.”

Read also: No Explanation — or Apology — for Obama's L.A. Gridlock Nightmare


Vermont Avenue between Martin Luther King Boulevard and Exposition, Figueroa between Martin Luther King Boulevard and 39th Street, and Exposition Boulevard between Vermont and Figueroa will all be close to vehicular traffic from 9:30 a.m. to 2:50 p.m. From 11:25 a.m.  to 2:50 p.m. they will also be closed to pedestrian traffic.

And finally, read: Obama Raises $1 Mmmmillion… LA Furious

A spokesman for the Secret Service, Ed Donovan told TheWrap:

"We always work very closely with Los Angeles police and any local state agencies involved in traffic control to come up with traffic plan that ensures highest amount of safety with least impact on the community."

Last time, he said, "There was no doubt there was an issue in Los Angeles."

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