President Obama arrived in Los Angeles Monday afternoon on schedule, as did the much-anticipated traffic jams. Air Force One, the presidential Boeing 747, landed at LAX at approximately 4:38pm, and President Obama then transferred to Marine One, a helicopter, for a short flight to the Veterans Administration building in Westwood. From there a motorcade comprising of an estimated 75 vehicles, including two heavily armored presidential limousines, proceeded along the approximately 9.4 mile route to the House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard.
Sunset Blvd. was completely closed to traffic between the 405 Freeway and Laurel Canyon/Crescent Heights for about 45 minutes for east-west traffic, with all north-south crossing traffic halted on a rolling basis for about 20 minutes while the motorcade cleared the numerous intersections.
At the Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset and Crescent Dr., the intersection was closed off by Beverly Hills Police and Dept. of Transportation officers, who courteously but firmly advised backed-up traffic waiting to cross Sunset, to wait about 20 to 25 minutes, rather than try to drive around the blockade.
Most motorists seemed to know the reason for the delay and were content, if a little irritated by the delay. One motorist, a young lady in a black Porsche Carrera, appeared surprised when a Beverly Hills Dept. Transportation officer told her the reason for the delay, ‘Obama’s in town?’ she said, ‘Yes ma’am,’ replied the officer, perhaps suppressing the urge to say ‘Don’t you listen to the news?’ Some motorists left their cars and walked up to the intersection to watch the motorcade; there was little else to do.
Suddenly the first of a fleet of police motorcycles roared through the intersection heading east along Sunset. The small crowd of onlookers craned their heads to the west to catch a glimpse of the presidential motorcade. More motorcycles, a couple of police SUV’s and then the two black Cadillac limousines sped through the intersection, perhaps travelling at 40 to 50 miles per hour.
President Obama appeared to be seated, in shirtsleeves, in the passenger side rear of the lead limousine (see slideshow). Behind the President, the motorcade continued through the intersection as the onlookers returned to their cars. To the evening commuters it must have seemed that the motorcade was endless, but it was probably no more than 75 vehicles. Within 10 minutes the police opened the intersection and traffic started flowing again.
Tomorrow morning the president motorcade is expected to snarl traffic again as Obama travels from his hotel in Beverly Hills (believed to be the Beverly Wilshire Hotel) back to the Veterans Administration building to be helicoptered to LAX.