Traffic backups could begin early Saturday morning in Richmond as President Donald Trump supporters or protesters make their way to Eastern Kentucky University where early birds can set up and wait from 8 a.m. until a 7 p.m. rally starts inside Alumni Coliseum.
City and campus police will be out trying to manage people and increased traffic on and in the limited number of travel routes and gathering spots, and the university released guidelines on acceptable and unacceptable activity while Trump’s in town to appear with GOP Rep. Andy Barr who is battling Democrat Amy McGrath. Significant wait times are expected outside the coliseum before the event, the university acknowledged. Traffic delays could affect Interstate 75.
“Eastern Kentucky University and the Division of Public Safety are committed to providing a safe and secure environment for everyone,” the university said on the event’s information page. The Trump campaign rented the coliseum for the “independent” event it will administer, the university said.
Anyone attending the event Saturday must have a ticket, which can be requested online at donaldjtrump.com/rallies. Ticket holders will be allowed into a waiting area in the Alumni Coliseum lot at 641 Eastern Bypass starting at 8 a.m., and doors will open at 4 p.m. All attendees must go through a security screening before the event, which begins at 7 p.m.
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The arena seats 6,500 fans for games and up to 8,000 for other events, according to the university. It wasn’t clear how many tickets Trump organizers are distributing or if there will be accommodations for an overflow crowd.
Alumni Coliseum has a large parking lot typically used by commuter students when classes are held, but it isn’t huge. Additional parking will be available in multiple campus lots, including Lancaster, Brockton, Dizney and Hanlon, according to the university.
Folding chairs, small coolers and umbrellas are allowed outside, but they must be left in the parking lot during the event.
Restricted items include signs, backpacks, balloons, coolers, drones and supports for signs or placards, according to the EKU’s event information page. Firearms, explosives were prohibited
Any area that has not been designated as “restricted” on campus will be open for public demonstration and “freedom of expression” as long as activities do not violate university policy. Among the university restrictions, speakers may not be in streets, parking lots or on sidewalks, and demonstrators cannot impede pedestrian traffic
Officials expect heavy traffic congestion starting as early as 6 a.m. Saturday through midnight in the area around Alumni Coliseum, according to the university. Anyone not attending the rally or nearby demonstrations is asked to avoid the area. Students planning on leaving for fall break have been advised to leave Friday if possible.
Rolling temporary road closures are also possible in the area Saturday, according to the university.
Richmond Police Department Assistant Chief Rodney Richardson said officers will be out in full force for the rally.
“Hopefully we will try to minimize the impact on the public as little as possible,” Richardson said. “We will get people where they need to be.”
Richardson said it is the first time in his 21-year career at the department that a sitting president has been in Richmond, and that officers are looking forward to it. Officers will assist Secret Service and help keep traffic moving as much as they can, he said.
“Any of the main arteries in Richmond I expect there to be traffic,” Richardson said. “We expect high traffic at any entrance and exit on I-75 in Richmond.”
For updated information, including a full list of restricted items, visit www.eku.edu/rally.