Yesterday, the President came to Baltimore to visit Fort McHenry as part of the 200th anniversary of the National Anthem. War of 1812 and all that.
He, as one would expect, arrived via the Marine One helicopter… there’s plenty of space at Fort McHenry to land a helicopter.
This is, I think we would all agree, a normal and acceptable function of the head of state. He visited a major celebration of an important time in the history of the United States, got to tour a historical site, and hobnob with the people there. I’m cool with that.
At about 3-3:30PM, however, I95 southbound was closed at the Ft McHenry tunnel. All access routes out of Baltimore to I95 Southbound were closed. I695 Westbound from I95 (the West side inner loop) was also closed, so there was no access to I695 to go West or North from I95 all the way around to past I70.
It remained closed until after 5PM.
That’s on a Friday. During rush hour. As an Orioles game ended. During a huge historic celebration bringing tourists into and around Baltimore.
The road closures were not announced until they were happening, and no ETAs for reopening were provided.
Because the President needed to attend a fundraiser for Democratic Senators, held at a private residence in Northwest Baltimore. A house owned by a wealthy hedge fund manager, and a fundraiser that cost tens of thousands of dollars to attend. (I’m thinking everyone there was probably in the 1%).
The result? Tens of thousands of commuters were stuck. Downtown Baltimore was absolutely gridlocked for hours. Since there were no alternate routes, and overpasses along His travel route were also closed, there was no where to go, and no one knew what time it would end.
I understand the security needs of the President. While I think it’s overkill to shut down an interstate so He can use it, I get it. I understand why the closures aren’t announced, and why the timing isn’t shared with the public What I don’t understand is how we got to the point that we simply accept the President can shut down a city for a couple of hours during rush hour to go to a fundraiser. How much did that fundraiser cost the area in lost productivity? Frustration? Parents getting home to their kids? I would argue it’s thousands of hours, and in the millions of dollars.
Here’s what it cost me, just as an example: Continue reading