West L.A. gridlock reported as Obama arrives for fundraising events
Numerous exits on the 405 Freeway were closed as the president’s motorcade made its way along surface streets. Olympic Boulevard remained open, but there were reports of bumper-to-bumper conditions on the roadway, jammed with motorists who were honking, yelling through windows and violating traffic rules in an effort to get around the mess.
According to a White House pool reporter, Obama’s helicopter landed at Barrington Recreation Center at 2:46 p.m., and he was taken by motorcade to the Beverly Hilton.
Along the route, according to the pool report, a nun in full habit stood along the curb holding a sign above her head that said "God Bless you," while a group of children jumped up and down, waving miniature American flags. A young woman held a sign that said, "I (heart) you Obama."
The motorcade passed a gas station where fuel was selling for $4.19 a gallon and a Chevron where it was $4.35.
Obama's visit to L.A. last summer closed numerous streets from downtown L.A. through the Westside, turning 45-minute commutes into three-hour ordeals.
In his last visit in the fall, he used a helicopter for some stops, and the traffic situation improved.
L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl urged Westside residents to plan activities at home during the time the president will be moving around or face “putting yourself into potential gridlock.”
Rosendahl said that after the traffic nightmare last summer, he talked to White House officials and urged them to use a helicopter, which they ultimately did.
He said the president’s advance team gave “encouraging signs that they appreciated that situation on the Westside.” While there will be some hard closures and parking bans on designated streets, efforts would be made to quickly reopen them after the president’s motorcade passes by, he said.
-- Maeve Reston and Andrew Blankstein
Photo: President Barack Obama salutes as he arrives Thursday at Los Angeles International. Credit: Nick Ut / Associated Press