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SXSW Traffic Will Be Extra Hectic When the President Is Here, Apparently

City plans for 'havoc'

President Barack Obama's SXSW appearance this Friday will have a "very significant" impact on the already, let's say, trying situation posed by regular festival traffic, said Bill Manno, the city's corporate special events manager, at a press conference today.

Manno noted that the Interactive festival usually brings about 200,000 more people per day downtown than usual.

Officials wouldn't discuss specifics about route plans for the Obama's visit, but did announce a number of measures the city is taking to get as many people as possible out of downtown well before the president's SXSW Interactive keynote.

Texas Tribune editor Evan Smith will interview the president at the Michael and Susan Dell Hall at the Long Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, March 11. The talk is scheduled to begin at approximately 2:30pm.

The city is releasing all nonessential employees at noon on Friday and encouraging businesses to do the same or ask their downtown employees to work remotely that day. Manno also urged anyone going downtown (which in this case includes the Long Center, venue for other SXSW 2016 events as well) to use mass transit, carpooling, and alternative means of travel such as walking or biking.

After underscoring his prediction that traffic will be a "mess," Manno noted that Capital Metro will be extending hours and other services for the festival.

APD Assistant Chief Chris McIlvain said coordinated planning for SXSW began 11 months ago, but the president's visit added another dimension to the strategy with relatively short notice to plan for the "havoc" it will cause for traffic.

While normal SXSW street closures around the Long Center weren't planned to take place until March 15 or after (see map below) there no doubt be numerous closings in the area and on the route from the airport on Friday. Officials could not discuss details of those closings for security reasons.

Long Center

701 W Riverside Dr, Austin, TX 78704 (512) 457-5100