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President Trump’s visit Tuesday will put downtown KC on lockdown

President Trump speaks at VFW convention

President Donald Trump spoke to about 4,000 veterans on Tuesday, July 24, 2018, at the VFW's national convention in Kansas City.
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President Donald Trump spoke to about 4,000 veterans on Tuesday, July 24, 2018, at the VFW's national convention in Kansas City.

If you work downtown, you should probably plan on packing a lunch Tuesday — or calling in sick.

President Donald Trump will be coming to Kansas City for the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and a luncheon fundraiser for Senate candidate Josh Hawley.

The president is expected to arrive in Kansas City midmorning and speak to the VFW at Municipal Auditorium. He will leave Kansas City by about 2 p.m., according to an email sent to businesses close to the convention center.

The Convention Center District, spanning roughly from 10th Street to Truman Road and from Washington Street to Baltimore Avenue, will be completely locked down.

Surrounding streets will be blocked off, parking garages and lots in the area will be closed and there will be no traffic allowed in whatsoever — on foot or in cars — for the duration. People in the area will not be able to walk to lunch, a media release said.

Airspace at Kansas City International Airport will be disrupted, too, said spokesman Joe McBride, but likely just for the time it takes for Air Force One to land — less than 10 minutes. There will be “rolling closures” as the presidential motorcade travels from the airport to downtown and back, he said.

Streetcars are expected to operate normally, said spokeswoman Donna Mandelbaum.

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The police department said the closures are planned to start after the morning rush hour and end before the evening rush hour. The effect of the closures will reverberate through the whole downtown area, congealing traffic in a much larger area than what’s directly blocked off.

“Pretty much all of downtown will feel some effect,” said police spokesman Sgt. Jake Becchina.

Justin Clemons, a manager at Quaff Bar & Grill, said Monday that he was already seeing effects from the president’s impending visit.

“We’re losing business off of this,” he said.

Police have put up emergency “no parking” signs on Broadway, he said, and they’ve had to warn customers to park elsewhere or risk getting towed. Some of those people have just decided to go elsewhere.

One couple refused to move their car, saying, “Well, we didn’t vote for him,” Clemons said.

He’s most concerned about how Monday evening’s business will be affected by the lack of parking, he said.

“I don’t know what my nighttime bartenders are going to do,” he said.

Other businesses are dealing with the disruption differently.

Spokes Cafe and Cyclery, at Washington Street and 12th Avenue, is expecting Trump’s visit to dampen business for the day, co-owner Dan Walsh said, but they’ll be hosting a party afterward to make up for it.

Protesters take to the streets as President Trump visits Kansas City. Warning: This video does contain strong language.

They’ll be serving $2 tacos and white Russians, plus as much free ketchup as you’d like to celebrate the president’s propensity for ketchup on well-done steaks.

“We’ve obviously hit some sort of nerve there in terms of folks downtown,” Walsh said. He’s seeing a lot more attention to the post than he expected, he said, which now has more than 200 likes and more than 50 shares.

Tuesday’s traffic disruptions are coming on the heels of similar tie-ups from Vice President Mike Pence’s visit on July 11.

“Just spent 30 minutes looping in traffic because Mike Pence is in town,” posted Twitter user Matt Seeley on the day of Pence’s visit. “These guys shouldn’t be allowed to ever leave the white house with how much gridlock they cause. @FBI.”

Ward Parkway was closed that day, Seeley wrote in an email, so he was unable to cross it. He had hoped to meet someone at the Plaza for lunch, but ended up driving around in circles until he gave up and went back to his office hungry.

He plans to pack a lunch Tuesday.

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