PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — President Barack Obama landed at PDX around 5:30 p.m., during Thursday evening’s commute, the beginning of an overnight stay that will include a speech at a Democratic fundraiser and a stop at Nike on Friday.
The president got off Air Force One and spoke with Gov. Kate Brown, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and other dignitaries for a few minutes before walking over to meet and greet the people who gathered at the airport to say hello to the 44th President of the United States.
“He was so warm and so nice with the crowd, and he was really engaging and he gave my son here a high five,” Tatum Seitz said. “He asked my daughter her name and told her it was nice to meet her, so he was just really great.”
His motorcade traveled swiftly down I-84 and arrived in downtown around 6:10 p.m. People snapped pictures as the president smiled broadly from inside his limousine.
Crowds gathered in downtown Portland about two hours before he landed, hoping to catch a glimpse of Obama. There were also protesters with picket signs who voiced their opinions on trade issues.
“I’m trying to calm down, I’m too excited,” Shay Abraham said. “I’ve been up Yamhill, Main Street, Salmon Street, I can’t see him. I’m trying to catch a glimpse of him.”
Portlanders can expect closures throughout downtown during Obama’s visit. To avoid the jams, PBOT has advised those who work downtown to work from home, or bike into town.
The area from SW Morrison to SW Washington, from 9th-12th Avenues, will be blocked off beginning at 2 p.m. Thursday. The area will be closed to all traffic until 8 p.m.
MAX trains and streetcars that run through these areas will have to adjust service during the closures. TriMet has warned riders to expect major delays during Obama’s stay in the Rose City.
KOIN 6 News learned President Obama’s visit is also forcing some businesses to close for the day. One food cart owner said she could lose $2,000 because of it.
“That pays the rent, that pays our bills, and we can’t really sacrifice a day — any day– and so it’s not good for small businesses to not be able to operate,” food cart owner Colleen Schroht said.
Pedestrians will have limited access to the closed areas, something that is causing other business owners to worry as well.
“We thought it’ll be OK, you know, if they are going to block the parking or the street, but we still get walk-ins,” August Gilges said. “Now it looks like you won’t be able to walk.”
Still, others think the president’s visit is worth the hassle.
“I’m just glad he’s coming,” Joe Saunders, Rose Town Beverage owner, said. “I’d like to see him every once in a while, make sure he still believes we are here.”
The White House has not disclosed exactly what routes the president will take in his motorcade downtown.
KOIN 6 News will have all the details on President Obama’s visit throughout his stay in the area.