Raleigh prepares for Obama rally

RALEIGH Obama's "Early Vote for Change" rally will take place at Halifax Mall, located across Lane Street from the back side of the Legislative Building. Gates open at 10 a.m. The program begins at 11:15 a.m. Senator Obama will arrive some time after that.

Organizers are hoping for 25,000 supporters. Some law enforcement officials are hoping for a number closer to 10,000, as there is some concern as to how many people the Mall, located above a parking deck, can safely hold. Calls to the Capitol Police Department, which has jurisdiction over the mall, seeking comment about how many people would be allowed have not been returned.

The City of Raleigh will be closing several streets at 9:30 a.m. to accommodate the rally.

    The following roads will be closed at approximately 9:30 a.m.:
  • Wilmington Street from Jones Street to Peace Street
  • Salisbury Street from Peace Street to Lane Street
  • Lane Street from Salisbury Street to Blount Street
  • Polk Street from Wilmington Street to Blount Street
  • North Street from Wilmington Street to Blount Street

  • Detour signs will be posted for motorists on northbound Wilmington Street, directing the traffic to take Jones Street to Person Street to Peace Street.

    Capital Area Transit buses will experience detours on Salisbury Street and Wilmington Streets between 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. CAT Routes 1 (Capital Boulevard), 2 (Falls of Neuse), 3 (Glascock), 4 (Rex Hospital), 10 (Longview ) and 12 (Method )will not serve bus stops between Jones Street and Peace Street during these hours. For more information on the affected service, call the Regional GoTriangle Call Center at 485-RIDE. Parking will also be limited.

    "Parking is really gonna be an issue tomorrow, and also, towing is going to be enforced," said Capt. Everett Clendenin with the North Carolina Highway Patrol. "If you're parking in areas where you shouldn't be parking like along streets or other areas that would impact traffic, we're gonna tow your vehicle."

    There are several hourly parking lots downtown, but most are several blocks to the south of Halifax Mall. There city's Blount Street, Moore Square and Wilmington Street decks will all be open. There are more spaces further south, and the city's Performing Arts and Convention Center parking decks.

    For security reasons, bags and umbrellas are not allowed at the rally. Signs and banners are not allowed, either. With Election Day just a week away, some are wondering if this will be Senator Obama's last trip to North Carolina. "You never know, you never know," said campaign staffer Paul Cox. "North Carolina's a battleground state, we're showing a lot of attention here."

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