City: President's visit will spur major gridlock during Wednesday PM commute

City: President's visit will spur major gridlock during Wednesday PM commute
Published: Aug. 30, 2016 at 6:49 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 31, 2016 at 1:33 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city is warning drivers to prepare for serious traffic congestion Wednesday afternoon, when police will close several major thoroughfares for the president's visit.

"There's going to be significant impacts to traffic," said city Transportation Services acting Director Mark Garrity. "We appreciate everyone's kokua."

As early as 4 p.m., police will close "major thoroughfares and surface streets" in the eastbound direction from the airport to Manoa, said Honolulu Police Department assistant Chief Clayton Kau.

Kau said the president's specific route would not be revealed, but he urged eastbound drivers to be prepared for "significant delays."

"It's going to be pretty bad," he said, at a news conference Tuesday.

Garrity added, "If at all possible, we encourage people to avoid the area between the airport and UH-Manoa."

When President Barack Obama lands, his motorcade will head to the East-West Center on the campus of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he'll address Pacific Island leaders in town for the World Conservation Congress.

After speaking at the East-West Center, Obama will head toward Windward Oahu. While the president travels, there will be westbound and northbound closures.

Kau said westbound drivers in town seeking to wait out the traffic shouldn't get on the freeway until after 7:00 p.m.

Meanwhile, on Thursday morning, Obama will depart for Midway Atoll to mark a historic expansion of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands marine national monument. Obama will return to Hawaii on Thursday evening, and then leave Friday morning.

In an effort to alleviate traffic congestion Wednesday, the city is allowing its employees to start earlier to leave by 2:45 p.m., or take vacation leave.

The state is also urging state department directors to be liberal in granting state employees vacation or leave on Wednesday. All state offices on Oahu will remain open, however.

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