Traffic Delays Expected as President Obama Returns For Celeb Fundraisers

By Jill Colvin on March 1, 2012 7:35am 

President Barack Obama will return to New York Thursday for a series of fundraisers.
President Barack Obama will return to New York Thursday for a series of fundraisers.
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Wikimedia Commons/ SEIU International

FLATIRON DISTRICT — President Barack Obama and his traffic-snarling motorcade will be rolling back into town Thursday evening for a series of star-studded fundraisers featuring Deepak Chopra, Russell Simmons, Ben Folds and the Roots.

The trip is likely to cause headaches through the evening rush for commuters across Manhattan.

Obama, who has been a regular fixture on the city's fundraising scene as he gears up for the 2012 election, will begin his evening at an exclusive reception at a private residence. The event, reportedly on the Upper West Side, is expected to be attended by 100 deep-pocketed supporters paying at least $5,000 each, a campaign official said.

The president will then travel to Jean-Georges Vongerichten's celebrated locavore eatery ABC Kitchen in the Flatiron District for an intimate fundraising dinner, before speaking at a star-studded gala next door at ABC Carpet & Home, hosted by Vongerichten, Deepak Chopra, Russell Simmons, store CEO Paulette Cole and failed Congressional contender Reshma Saujani.

That's where The Roots, Ben Folds and Ingrid Michaelson will perform in front of 900 fans.

Tickets for the 80-person dinner cost supporters $35,000, while gala tickets began at $1,000, the official said.

Obama will end his night at a final reception at a private residence, with approximately 90 supporters paying at least $10,000 each. Co-hosts will reportedly include designer Michael Kors, producer Harvey Weinstein, actress Mariska Hargitay, actor Peter Hermann and producer Elizabeth Redleaf.

The events are expected to bring in upwards of $4 million dollars for the campaign.

Traffic guru Sam "Gridlock" Schwartz warned drivers to expect major delays through rush hour, beginning with the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, which is expected to be closed briefly in both directions, first at 4:30 p.m. and then at 10:30 p.m., he said.

As Obama zigzags through the city, traffic will also likely be frozen on the FDR Drive between 63rd and 125th streets at 4:30 p.m., between 23rd and 63rd streets about 6 p.m., between 23rd and 72nd streets around 9 p.m. and between 72nd and 125th streets at 10:30 p.m.

Musician Ben Folds performs on Fuse's 'A Different Spin with Mark Hoppus' at fuse Studios on November 30, 2010 in New York City.
Musician Ben Folds performs on Fuse's 'A Different Spin with Mark Hoppus' at fuse Studios on November 30, 2010 in New York City.
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Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

“Tips to avoid Obama-induced traffic impacts tomorrow pm: Stay below 14th Street, stick to the far West Side, take transit!,” Schwartz warned on Twitter.

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