Triangle prepares for presidential visit, traffic back-ups

The president is expected to tour a company in Research Triangle Park before giving a speech on the economy.
January 14, 2014 8:18:00 PM PST
President Barack Obama is set to visit the Triangle Wednesday and Gov. Pat McCrory will greet the president when he lands at RDU.

The president is then expected to tour a company in Research Triangle Park before giving a speech on the economy at N.C. State University.

Moving trucks, a police mobile unit and at least one cable news satellite rig were stationed outside the tennis complex at the university in preparation for the presidential visit.

"I see security, and I know people on Twitter are very excited and we saw like the gates and everything setting up and making sure everything is safe for us to listen," said N.C. State junior Alexius Simrel.

Simrel is one of about 500 who will see the commander-in-chief deliver a speech in person.

"I'm very fortunate," said Simrel.

That's an understatement. The Winston-Salem human biology major was inside Reynolds Coliseum the last time President Obama spoke on campus.

"I think it's good to hear things firsthand and just get the experience," said Simrel.

N.C. State senior Raphael Chanis, who doesn't have a ticket, will watch on TV.

"Come on. We have the leader of the free world coming to N.C. State," said Chanis. "It's a beautiful thing for the Wolfpack."

Before any of that, it will be a full morning for the president. He's scheduled to depart Andrews Air Force base just before 10 a.m. He'll touch down a little more than an hour later at RDU.

Then, it's off to RTP for a tour at Vacon, which is the largest company in the world focused on designing medium voltage AC drives.

"Most of our business today is in low-voltage drives, in motor drives for industry but also in renewable power and conversion," said Dan Isaksson, the V.P. of Medium Voltage Drives.

Priorities at Vacon and N.C. State dovetail the president's expected remarks on innovation hubs, hiring the long-term unemployed and making higher education more accessible in the U.S.

"We're number one in a lot of things," said Chanis. "What I want is for us to be number one in education."

Once the president leaves the triangle, he'll meet with N.C. State and UNC's college presidents among others back at the White House.

Not everyone will welcome the president with open arms when he's here. A conservative student group and Americans for Prosperity will gather outside N.C. State to remind the president about the early problems of rolling out the Affordable Care Act.

The president's visit will likely cause traffic headaches for drivers.

Beginning about noon, expect back-ups in the area around N.C. State because of the president's motorcade.

Interstate 40 both east and west of the airport, the Durham Freeway, Western Boulevard, and the beltline could all be shut down for the president depending on his route.

N.C. State also warns that there will be periodic street closures west of Dan Allen Drive throughout Wednesday for security reasons.

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