As people make their way to the Obama campaign rally Saturday morning, they will likely contend with traffic from not only the rally, but from a half marathon and a state science fair. Drivers might find themselves waiting in a line of traffic before waiting in a line of people outside the Schottenstein Center.
President Barack Obama, joined by first lady Michelle Obama, will be visiting Ohio State’s campus for the second time in two months Saturday when he is expected to kick off his 2012 presidential re-election campaign in the Schottenstein Center. Doors open at 10:30 a.m., and the president is expected to speak at 1:25 p.m.
Jessica Kershaw, press secretary for Obama for America in Ohio, said Obama will speak on his plans for building the nation’s economy.
“He will outline his visions for the country, a vision to show he is committed to moving America forward,” Kershaw said, “to keep the economy on track and to grow it for future generations.”
The rally marks Obama’s second trip to campus in the last two months. He spoke to about 2,600 people on his energy policies in the RPAC March 22. Obama’s last campaign rally on campus was Oct. 17, 2010, when he spoke to an estimated crowd of 35,000 on the Oval.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has also been campaigning in Central Ohio. He spoke to students at Otterbein University in Westerville April 27 about the economy.
Obama has back-to-back rallies planned Saturday. Following his visit to OSU, he will attend a rally at Virginia Commonwealth University.
OSU Police Chief Paul Denton said he could not release the exact number of University Police that will be on patrol this Saturday for security reasons, but said officers will be directing traffic outside the Schottenstein Center.
While a limited amount of free parking will be available at the Schottenstein Center, Denton suggested parking in the Buckeye Lot off Ackerman Road or, for people willing to walk a longer distance, parking on West Campus. There will be a free shuttle available from 6 a.m. to about one hour after Obama’s speech to transport people to and from the lot and the Schottenstein Center, said Beth Kelley-Snoke, director of OSU Transportation and Parking Services.
Nine buses will transport people to the Schottenstein Center, and six will be available to transport people back to the Buckeye Lot, Kelley-Snoke said.
Traffic and parking on campus will also be impacted by two other events Saturday morning, the Capital City Half Marathon and the State Science Day.
“It’s going to be a hectic day on campus, but I think the parking map we have on our website and the press release we put out will help direct people to the right places,” Kelley-Snoke said.
Denton said Olentangy River Road will be closed south of the Schottenstein Center, and Lane Avenue will be closed east of the Schottenstein Center due to the marathon. Traffic will resume on the roads after the race. People driving to the Schottenstein Center from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. are encouraged to use Woody Hayes Drive and Fyffe Road.
While Science Day is not expected to disrupt traffic patterns, it will impact parking, officials said. People attending Science Day are expected to park at Ohio Stadium, St. John Arena and French Field House.
People should expect traffic delays throughout the morning, according to the press release.
“That’s one of the reasons we did a media alert,” said Amy Murray, assistant director for media relations at OSU. “People were concerned about how to get here.”
OSU Police will also work with Secret Service inside the Schottenstein Center, Denton said. He also said people should expect airport-like security inside the building.
“There’s going to be a screening process,” Denton said. “You don’t want to bring anything you’re not allowed to bring in an airport … no sharp objects, umbrellas (or) large bags.”
Other items prohibited from the building include liquids, bottles, large electronics or signs. Cameras and cell phones will be permitted, according to the press release.
While Obama for America will cover the cost of putting on the campaign rally at the Schottenstein Center, University Police will pay out-of-pocket to provide police security. Costs are unknown at this time.