Details Of DNC 2012 Security Plan Unveiled
The Democratic National Convention will soon put Charlotte in the spotlight. But it will also create some hassles for Uptown residents and commuters. Wednesday, we found out where you can and can't go. The City of Charlotte and the Secret Service released their transportation and security plans for September 2 through 6. WFAE's Lisa Miller is in the studio to talk about what uptown will be like then.
Duncan McFadyen: So, Lisa, plenty of people will want to stay away from uptown. But, say, you want to see all the politicians and delegates. How close can you get to the convention sites?
Lisa Miller: To get as close as you can, you'll have to go through a Secret Service checkpoint. Those are about two to three blocks out from Time Warner arena where most of the events are happening. But you'll still be a block away. Only people with credentials, delegates, politicians, and media, are allowed any closer. The same goes with Bank of America stadium where President Obama will accept the nomination. Now, as you imagine, all these closures will really slow down traffic uptown. Mayor Anthony Foxx says he knows it'll be a pain for people, but he used yesterday's press conference to talk up what Charlotte has to gain with the DNC's spotlight.
FOXX: This event will allow us to show the rest of the world what makes Charlotte great and to raise the profile of Charlotte on the international stage.
DM: Okay, but what about that commuter who has to make it into Uptown for work? How hard is that going to be?
LM: It won't be easy. Police Chief Rodney Monroe says to add an extra 20 to 30 minutes to your commute, if you're going to the heart of Uptown. But remember if you're driving, or parking anywhere close to Time Warner or later in the week Bank of America stadium. You'll likely have to go through a checkpoint. Now, Tryon will be open to foot traffic and cars that Tuesday through Thursday, but it'll be a one-way street.
DM: What's a checkpoint involve?
LM: I'm not sure. The Secret Service is in charge of that and I'm still waiting to hear back from them. If you're taking public transit Uptown, remember, the transit center will be moved several blocks to Mint and Third street for part of the week. And the Lynx will go no further than stonewall for the first part of the week.
DM: So what are businesses planning to do that week?
LM: A lot of them are encouraging their employees to work from home. Duke Energy expects most of its Uptown employees to do that. Many Bank of America workers will do the same. But some B of A people will be assigned to offices outside of Uptown. And then you have all the shops and restaurants around Uptown hoping for a good cut of the DNC business. Mert's restaurant is a block away from Time Warner. They're booked for lunches that whole week, but not for dinner. I spoke with the manager there, Leia James, and she isn't worried.
JAMES: When people are in town, since we happen to be kind of smack in the middle of all the hotels, you know, everyone's looking for a good bite. Nobody wants to pay $25, $30 at a hotel bar. Hah.
LM: But on the other hand, some shops located in Bank of America buildings near the arena, like Founders Hall, won't get any business, because they're closing that week.
DM: Now, what about all the people who want to protest during that week? What do they think of the plans?
LM: I don't think a lot of these security and transportation plans come as a surprise to them. I spoke with Michael Zytkow with Occupy Charlotte and the Coalition to March on Wall Street South. The thing that shocked him was the large swathe of Uptown that would be designated as an extraordinary event area. That means police would be allowed to inspect any bags or backpacks there.
ZYTKOW: It's essentially almost all of the commercial or a pedestrian walkable area of downtown as well as areas outside of 277, including the entire parade route. Wow, that's even worse than I expected, unfortunately.
LM: Zytkow doesn't like the city's pick for a speaker's platform that's kind of what other city's have called a "free speech zone." It's on the edge of Uptown kitty corner to the convention center.
DM: Thanks for the rundown, Lisa.
LM: Thank you.
DM: You can find maps of where you can and can't go during the convention at DNCInfo.CharlotteNC.gov. Also, you can find changes to bus routes there.