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Obama visit to complicate travel Friday evening in Portland, South Portland

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Obama visit to complicate travel Friday evening in Portland, South Portland

PORTLAND — Campaign events for President Barack Obama in South Portland and Portland on Friday evening are expected to produce traffic delays and temporary street closures in both cities.

The president will land at Portland International Jetport late Friday afternoon and travel to the Hutchinson Union Building at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland for a sold-out campaign speech in front of approximately 2,000 people.

After that, the president will head to the Portland Museum of Art on Free Street for a private dinner with about 100 major donors. 

South Portland Police Chief Ed Googins on Thursday said drivers should be ready for temporary road closures and delays near SMCC, but declined to give any details, citing U.S. Secret Service instructions.

"We did work with the Secret Service and this will require a lot of manpower," Googins said. "Other than that, I don't want to get into it too much."

In Portland, city spokeswoman Nicole Clegg said several streets around the Portland Museum of Art would be closed from about 6 p.m. to about 10 p.m. Those streets include: High between Danforth and Congress; Spring between Park and Oak; Free between Congress and Oak; and Oak between Free and Spring.

Clegg said motorists should allow extra time to travel in the downtown area. The presidential motorcade is also expected to slow traffic, she noted, but the route will not be released for security reasons.

Two sold-out concerts by rapper and 13-time Grammy Award nominee Snoop Dogg at the State Theatre on Congress Street – diagonally across Congress Square from the art museum – are expected to add to the circus-like atmosphere in downtown Portland Friday night. Doors open for the first show at 7 p.m.

State Theatre General Manager Lauren Wayne said she and her security company met with the Secret Service Wednesday to coordinate and share information. Wayne said notices have also been sent via social media, warning fans of the possible congestion near the theatre.

"I'm more excited than anything else," Wayne said. "I'm not too nervous. Our fans are usually well-behaved."

Wayne said the theatre will have concert-goers line up along westbound Congress Street toward State Street, rather than the usual queue that snakes around the corner and down High Street. This should keep Congress Square a little less congested, she said.

"This is really exciting for Portland," Wayne said. "I would love President Obama to come in and see a few songs by Snoop, but that's a little unrealistic. But that would really pop the whole evening off."

Mario Moretto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or mmoretto@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @riocarmine.