Traffic Chaos Expected During Evening Rush for President Obama Visit

By Jill Colvin on January 19, 2012 11:33am | Updated on January 19, 2012 3:00pm

President Barack Obama was in Manhattan for a series of fundraisers.
President Barack Obama was in Manhattan for a series of fundraisers.
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Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

MANHATTAN — President Barack Obama is returning to Manhattan for another round of big-money fundraisers Thursday — a visit expected to create evening rush-hour problems.

The president and his traffic-clogging motorcade are expected to hit several spots, including the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem for a star-studded concert.

"Drivers beware: Obama's coming to town tomorrow!" tweeted Sam "Gridlock" Schwartz Wednesday. "Upper East Side and Harlem most impacted. Avoid the Triboro and FDR during PM rush hour."

Drivers should expect closures on the RFK-Triboro Bridge from around 4 to 5:30 p.m, he said. The FDR Drive will also be temporarily closed in both directions between East 59th Street and East 125th Street during the same time, as well as from 9 to 10 p.m. It will also be shut down around 11 p.m., Schwartz added.

Those taking public transit should also expect delays on buses across the East Side, including diversions of the M7, M2, M15, M100, M101, M102 and M103 according to the MTA. (A full list of changes is available here.)

The White House said the president will touch down at John F. Kennedy airport after 3:30 p.m. He'll spend the late afternoon and early evening hobnobbing on the Upper East Side with celebrities and VIPs, including director Spike Lee, his campaign said.

Obama will begin his trip schmoozing at two events at the elegant Daniel restaurant on the Upper East Side, a campaign official said. At one, he'll reportedly meet with Jewish leaders at a reception hosted by Dr. Daniel E. Fass and Alexandra Stanton with tickets ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 for a meet-and-greet. A second event will draw 60 guests paying at least $15,000 each.

Next, the president will head to the Upper East Side brownstone of Spike Lee and his wife, Tonya Lee Lewis. The intimate 6 p.m. reception will draw about 45 guests, each paying $35,800, according to the campaign.

Finally, Obama will end his evening delivering remarks at a star-studded concert at the Apollo, where he and more than 1,400 attendees will be serenaded by crooners Al Green and India.Arie. Tickets to the sold-out show, which starts at 7 p.m., ranged from just $100 to $25,000 for premium seating and a pre-show reception with special guests.

Director Spike Lee speak will host President Barack Obama at a fundraiser on Jan. 19, 2012.
Director Spike Lee speak will host President Barack Obama at a fundraiser on Jan. 19, 2012.
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Malcolm Taylor/Getty Images

Occupy Wall Street protesters are expected to target the event.

Obama attracted a huge crowd last March when he visited the up-and-coming Red Rooster restaurant and Studio Museum in Harlem. He previously held a fundraiser at the Apollo in 2007.

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