Hey NJ, Trump’s coming to town — so expect serious traffic around Route 78
BEDMINSTER — Donald Trump is scheduled to make his first trip to New Jersey as president of the United States this weekend — causing air and road restrictions.
Trump is also set to make his first presidential trip to his home in New York as part of a full weekend that will start Thursday night with a meeting on board the U.S.S. Intrepid, and end at his golf club in Bedminster, according to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
Trump will spend the night at Trump Tower in Manhattan and be driven to Bedminster, which will likely result in the closure of Route 78 as the presidential motorcade heads west, according to the Palm Beach Post. It's not known what time Trump will leave for Somerset County.
The Federal Aviation Administration put a "VIP flight advisory" in effect for the airspace between Morristown and Bedminster Friday through Sunday. No one is allowed to operate within a 10 nautical mile "inner core," while flights within a 30 nautical mile "outer ring" will be permitted as long as flight plans are filed ahead of time.
Morristown Airport, Somerset Airport in Bedminster and Solberg Airport in Readington are all mainly affected by the restrictions.
"Previous TFRs in this region have resulted in numerous airspace violations," according to the notice, with the FAA asking airport operators, managers and flight schools to spread the word about the restrictions. The FAA, the Department of Defense and other federal agencies will be closely monitoring and patrolling this airspace looking for violators," according to the notice.
Bedminster Mayor Steve Parker said there's some excitement in the air at the prospect of a presidential visit. "I think everybody’s kind of excited. Everybody’s interested in seeing what will transpire," Parker told New Jersey 101.5. "You don’t often get to have a sitting president in your town."
Parker said police Chief Karl Rock and the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office have been working closely with the Secret Service to prepare for Trump's visit and that "we’re finding there's a difference between president-elect and a sitting president, so yeah, I would say there’s a little bit more preparation."
"I think it’s nice to be chatted about on the national scene, although on a person level, I don’t think I’ve ever talked to this many members of the media," Parker said.
Trump will meet Thursday night with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Thursday on board the decommissioned battleship permanently docked in the Hudson River to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea, a World War II naval battle the U.S. fought with the help of Australia.
There had been concern by Bedminster mayor Steve Parker over the costs of presidential visits and who will pay. Representative Leonard Lance sent a letter to the Department of Justice under the Obama administration in December seeking help in covering costs similar to those made available when Barack Obama visited Hawaii and Chicago.
Ben Dworkin, director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University, said that despite the traffic, air restrictions and costs, it's an honor for the president to come to the state.
"It’s tremendous publicity, and the fact is it’s been more than a century since a US president really vacationed here in New Jersey," Dworkin said. "President Grover Cleveland, William McKinley and going as far as back as President Grant, have all vacationed on the Jersey Shore during their presidencies."
There's also the economic upside of additional purchases of food, gas and hotel rooms "so it’s a little bit like a small weekend convention’s worth of economic activity," Dworkin said, while acknowledging the downside of additional noise, traffic and lots of media.
"These things in a quite community like Bedminster are not what they expect, but it’s what they’re going to have to deal with when the president comes to visit," Dworkin said.
The visit also provides a way to show Trump how they feel about his administration. "His supporters will have an opportunity to wave thank you placards and be able to talk to people and talk to the media about how they like what the president’s doing. His critics and the president’s opponents, who are here in the state, will use his presence to air their grievances."
Trump spending time in New Jersey also presents an opportunity for New Jersey to rehab its image of lots of concrete and Superfund sites, according to Dworkin.
"It’s nice that they’re going to be able to see images of a beautiful piece of property in the middle of New Jersey," Dworkin said. "The folks who are out there who make jokes to New Jerseyans about being the armpit of the nation have never seen anything beyond some footage driving through some industrial part of New Jersey, or the opening credits to The Sopranos."
Dino Flammia contributed to this report
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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