President Obama is coming back to Seattle next week to raise money for the Democratic National Committee. But the timing couldn’t be worse.
A White House official tells The Seattle Times Obama will visit the Seattle-area next Tuesday, in the middle of the I-90 construction project predicted to cause massive traffic backups on the Eastside.
Details of the visit are reportedly still being worked out. Over the past few years, Obama has attended fundraisers on the Eastside as well as in Seattle that have prompted freeway shutdowns as his motorcade travels through the area.
“He’s coming in what’s predicted to be one of the worst traffic messes in years in Seattle,” laments KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. “I-5 is going to have all of the around-lake spillover traffic going on, and President Obama is coming in the middle of the I-90 shutdown to Seattle so he can use us as he always does as his ATM?!”
Obama will reportedly travel to San Francisco later Tuesday following the Seattle-area stop.
“The only time he comes to the Seattle area is so he can withdraw money from one of the most dependable fundraising sites on the Democratic calendar,” Dori complains.
We’ve reached out to the Governor’s office and other local Democratic officials for comment but so far haven’t gotten any response.
“I would love to find out if any responsible local politician said ‘Whoa, wait a minute, Tuesday next week is probably not a good time to be shutting down freeways all around the Seattle area,'” Dori says.
A spokesman for the Washington State Department of Transportation says the department has not gotten any information about the President’s schedule or itinerary, but any presidential visit creates congestion because roads have to be closed for security.
“It can really tie up a commute, it can create long delays,” says WSDOT’s Bart Treece.
WSDOT has been encouraging people to make alternate plans next week to reduce the number of cars on the road during the construction project, and a presidential visit could be the tipping point in many people’s decision.
“That might be a great day for people to telecommute,” he says.