Organizers prepare for presidential visit | News

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Organizers prepare for presidential visit
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SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine NEWS CENTER) -- Friday afternoon is already peak time for travelers in the greater Portland area, with many business people heading home for the weekend, and visitors flooding the city to dine, attend events and enjoy the nightlife.

After Air Force One touches down at the Portland Jetport just after four in the afternoon, the President and his entourage will make their way across South Portland to a fund raising event at Southern Maine Community College.  Local law enforcement agencies will be working closely with the Secret Service to temporarily close roads and stop traffic as part of the President's security as he makes his way to the school.

South Portland Police Chief Ed Googins says the President's motorcade will cause delays and urges residents to be patient.  He says the only roads in the city that will be closed for any extended period of time will be near the campus while the event is going on and should cause minimal disruptions.

Around six o'clock, the President will make his way across the Fore River to the Portland Museum of Art for another private fund raiser.  Police officials say there will be several temporary closures while he is in transit. 

Several roads around the museum will be closed for a few hours during the event.  High Street from Danforth to Congress Street, Free Street from Congress to Oak and Spring Street from Park to Center Street will be closed until the event ends sometime around nine Friday night.

There are several events planned in that section of town, including not one, but two concerts by rap star Snoop Dogg at the State Theater, as well as a charity hockey game featuring former members of the Boston Bruins at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Event organizers are urging people to plan ahead and arrive early for the events, as road closures and mutliple events will make travel on the peninsula difficult at times.

The hockey game, which pits Maine High School All-Stars against Bruins' legends, usually draws between three and four thousand people to the civic center.  People attending the game, which benefits the Portland Fire Fighters Association, are being asked to approach the arena from either the Old Port or Franklin Arterial.

The municipal parking garage adjacent to the civic center will be accessible from Spring Street, but cars that park there may not be able to leave until after the President leaves the museum which is near by. 

People are encouraged to park at lots and garages in the Old Port and near city hall.  Police officials say the traffic problems should not deter folks from coming into town and enjoying events in the city, but they do encourage people to avoid driving through the Congress Street corridor of the Arts District.

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