Local news

Cheney visit could slow traffic

Several streets in downtown Spokane will be closed this afternoon and drivers might see brief delays in the midafternoon and early evening as Vice President Dick Cheney travels to and from Fairchild Air Force Base.

Cheney will make a speech at a rally for armed service personnel and military retirees after landing at Fairchild about 2 p.m. The rally, in a base hangar, is designed to thank troops and their families for their service in the war on terrorism, said Maj. Carol Gering, a Fairchild spokeswoman.

After the rally, a motorcade will take Cheney to the Davenport Hotel for a campaign rally for Republican Senate candidate Mike McGavick.

Cpl. Tom Lee, a Spokane Police Department spokesman, said the exact route of the motorcade is confidential, and even police won’t be told until a few minutes before the vehicles leave.

Most motorists won’t see a delay of more than five minutes at intersections as the motorcade passes, Lee said. If the route includes Interstate 90, the lanes going into the city in the afternoon and out to the base in the evening might be closed for as much as 15 minutes. “It’s done really quickly,” Lee said.

The Police Department is also closing the area bounded by Monroe, Post, Sprague and Second to traffic for “an undetermined amount of time,” starting about 1 p.m., Staci Lehman of City Engineering Services said. Sidewalks in the area will be open to some foot traffic, but there may be security checkpoints.

Extra officers will be working on overtime to help with security, Lee said. In the past, City Council members have tried unsuccessfully to get campaigns to reimburse the city for costs connected with visiting political leaders.

But Lee said the department will probably just absorb the cost of this visit.

“We plan for a certain amount of overtime money every year for certain events, including visiting dignitaries,” he said.

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