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Wednesday, September 17, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 41.0° F  A Few Clouds
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City sets parking restrictions, street closures for Obama and Springsteen rally in downtown Madison
Up to 50,000 people expected to attend pre-Election Day event
The area was already buzzing Friday afternoon.
Credit:Kristian Knutsen

Downtown Madison workers whose office windows face Doty Street or Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd. might be tempted to sneak a peek during Pres. Barack Obama's rally with Bruce Springsteen on Monday, Nov. 5. But they're being warned to resist the temptation.

"The counter terrorism teams have to be cognizant of movement in windows for obvious reasons," Jon Lindskoog, parking manager for Urban Land Interests, said in an email Friday afternoon to tenants of Block 89. "Please cooperate with their needs and stay away from those windows. We, too, would like to watch, but we need to avoid the urge."

City employees have also been warned. "Offices facing MLK Jr., Blvd. and Wilson Street will need to be locked and vacant with the blinds drawn," Mayor Paul Soglin wrote in an email Friday afternoon to staff and city alders. "Adherence to this directive is imperative as the health and safety of our employees may be negatively impacted if we fail to enforce this directive," he added.

Soglin acknowledged that the "atmosphere" surrounding the event would likely cause a disruption in work. Supervisors were encouraged to be flexible if employees wanted to see the rally on their own time.

Obama is scheduled to speak between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. in front of the City County Building at 210 Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd.

The area was already buzzing Friday afternoon, with a line of early voters stretching out its front doors, and personnel milling about and discussing stage set-up.

City streets around the Capitol will start to close as early as 8 a.m. Sunday, with the 100 and 200 blocks of Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. the first to shut down, according to Tom Mohr of city traffic engineering. By 11 a.m. Sunday, Main Street, Doty Street and Wilson Street, from Carroll Street to Pinckney Street, will also be closed.

Starting at 3 a.m. the following streets will be closed:

  • The Capitol Square
  • The 100 blocks of West Washington Avenue, State Street, Wisconsin Avenue and East Washington Avenue, and the 100 and 200 blocks of South Pinckney Street
  • The 200 block of South Carroll Street
  • West Wilson Street between Carroll and Hamilton streets
  • Inbound West Wilson Street between Broom Street and Henry Street
More details are available in this map of street closures.

The city is providing special event parking at all city of Madison parking ramps and the gated area of the Brayton Lot. The $5 fee must be paid in cash upon entry.

The Government East garage at 215 S. Pinckney St. and the Brayton Lot at 1 S. Butler St. will be open only to people with disabilities.

Mohr said rally attendees will be asked to gather and form two lines at the top of State Street, at Carroll and Mifflin Streets. One line will be guided to a west entrance at Main and Carroll Streets and another to an entrance at Main and Pinckney Streets, said Mohr.

Lindskoog of Urban Land Interests said the Block 89 parking ramp will be closed as of 11 a.m. on Sunday. Other ramps owned by Urban Land Interests -- Dayton/Pinckney; Tenney Plaza; U.S. Bank Plaza; and 1 North Pinckney -- will be closed to visitors but open to those who have monthly parking passes.

All of the doors to Block 89, which includes 1 E. Main, 117 Martin King Jr. Blvd, 10 E. Doty and 33 E. Main St., will be locked on Monday, accessible only with employee fobs. These measures are required because some rally attendees will be entering the rally through a security checkpoint in front of 10 E. Doty and the parking ramp, said Lindskoog, who met with city police and secret service around noon on Friday.

Given the hasty plans for the rally, Lindskoog is anticipating gridlock and scarce parking will greet anyone who ventures downtown after 6 a.m. Monday. The crowd, he says, is anticipated to hit 50,000.

"We're hoping people treat this like a snow day," he said with a laugh.

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