Drivers Beware; President Obama is Coming Back to Town

The last time Obama came to visit, a mammoth traffic jam followed in his wake. Will that happen on Friday when the president comes to USC?

By Julie Brayton, Kim Baldonado and Toni Guinyard
|  Thursday, Oct 21, 2010  |  Updated 12:46 PM PDT
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President Barack Obama will visit Southern California on Friday to attend a fundraiser at USC, but will the traffic nightmares that followed his motorcade last August happen again?

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President Barack Obama will visit Southern California on Friday to attend a fundraiser at USC, but will the traffic nightmares that followed his motorcade last August happen again?

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Back in August, President Barack Obama came to L.A. to do some fundraising, but he ended up raising the ire of residents who got stuck behind barricades when streets were shut down to allow his motorcade to pass through.

Well, the president will be back in town to help Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer raise some money for the upcoming election.

The president is scheduled to speak to students at USC early Friday afternoon, Southern California Public Radio reports. He'll be on the same part of campus where presidential candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon once made speeches.

But local drivers hope the traffic will flow a little better this time around.

On Aug. 16, the president's entourage shut down streets all the way from LAX to Beverly Hills, to Hancock Park, at the worst time of day for traffic.

Thousands of drivers got snarled in the mess - some for hours -- and pedestrians were stopped from walking down the street as a result of the passing motorcade, and it stayed that way for hours.

"It took me about two hours to get to the 405, which is only about a mile away," said LA resident Julie Leung.

"He was driving by some of the streets in my neighborhood and they were all blocked off and all you saw were black Suburbans or GMC's. They took to the roads and everybody else just had to wait," said resident Ross Arbiter.

It got so bad, L.A. City councilman Bill Rosendahl introduced a motion demanding the LAPD and the L.A. Department of Transportation report on what went into deciding how traffic would be stopped and rerouted during the president's visit.

And when word got out that the president was going to visit USC, Rosendahl started making calls to the LAPD, the Secret Service and the White House.

"I think the White House has gotten the message. I think the president is sensitive to it. He does want to win votes, and the best way to win votes is 'don't give us anymore gridlock Mr. President' than we already have," said Rosendahl.

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