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What you need to know for 01/16/2018

Traffic-stopping visit for Obama, motorists

Traffic-stopping visit for Obama, motorists

The city won’t come to a stop because of President Barack Obama’s visit today — but parts of it will

The city won’t come to a stop because of President Barack Obama’s visit today — but parts of it will slow down noticeably.

Travelers in Colonie and the western part of the city — around Albany International Airport and the University at Albany — should expect road closures and travel delays because of President Obama’s brief visit, during which he’ll talk about the high-tech economy.

Sections of Interstate 90, Washington Avenue Extension and Fuller Road will all be closed from about noon to 3 p.m., state police said.

The visit — Ob-

ama’s third to the Capital Region in less than three years — will give the president a chance to highlight how companies like GlobalFoundries can transform the national economy.

Those kinds of companies are already changing the Capital Region, making the nickname “Tech Valley” seem accurate, rather than merely ambitious.

The president’s speech at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering is by invitation only.

Like Obama’s 2009 visit to Hudson Valley Community College in Troy and his January 2011 trip to General Electric in Schenectady, today’s stop in Albany will let the president emphasize American-based technology jobs and the industry, government and educational initiatives that produce them.

“The president’s visit highlights the success of this region to create new public-private economic development initiatives,” GlobalFoundries CEO Ajit Manocha said in a statement.

The president’s event was originally announced as taking place at the GlobalFoundries Fab 8 semiconductor plant in Malta — currently the most advanced semiconductor plant in the world — where the company expects to invest nearly $7 billion.

GlobalFoundries was the expected presidential location on Thursday, but on Friday the speech was moved to Albany Nanotech — a high-tech hot spot described by the White House as “a fully integrated research, development, prototyping and educational facility,” itself the location of $8 billion in public and private investment.

GlobalFoundries, IBM, Intel, Applied Materials, Sematech and other international technology companies all conduct advanced nanotechnology research there, and a $4.4 billion facility to develop the next generation of silicon wafers is being built there.

Before the three Obama visits, a sitting president hadn’t visited the Capital Region since President Bill Clinton was in Albany for a fundraiser in 1994.

Officials are warning the public to avoid traveling in the area — and there will be inconveniences for those who do.

The road closures will include I-90 from Thruway Exit 24 to Exit 4 in both directions; Washington Avenue Extension from Exit 2 to Crossgates Mall; and Fuller Road between Great Dane Avenue and Railroad Avenue.

“The road closures are necessary to allow for secure presidential travel between locations and on site,” state police said in a statement. “No vehicular traffic will be allowed on these roadways and motorists should make every effort to avoid these locations between the specified hours and should find alternative routes.”

The late morning arrival of Air Force One will cause some delays at Albany International Airport.

Travelers going to the airport between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. should be prepared for delays, airport officials warn — and there will be special parking restrictions.

Airport spokesman Doug Myers said motorists may encounter delays on access roads around the airport, and should allow themselves extra time. The airport itself will remain open, though flights may be delayed during the arrival and departure of the president’s plane, he said.

Myers suggested travelers expecting to depart between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. consider parking in the airport parking garage or in the long-term parking lot next to the garage.

Airport Shuttle Bus Service from E-Lot to the terminal will be delayed during the arrival and departure of the president’s airplane, Myers said.

There will no doubt be delays for other drivers in the area, though exact road closure times and locations aren’t yet available.

But if you hope to see Air Force One, expect to do so from a distance — the places around the airport where the public has traditionally been able to watch flight operations will be off-limits for the day.

“Traditional points around the airport that are used by the public to view aircraft landings and takeoffs will be closed Tuesday,” Myers said.

Originally, it was announced that Obama would visit the GlobalFoundries Fab 8 semiconductor plant in Malta — some 20 miles north of the airport — where 1,300 new high-tech manufacturing jobs have been created in the last year, as the plant starts production work. The location was changed Friday for logistical reasons.

Among the considerations is that Malta is significantly farther from the airport, and that as a working factory Fab 8 lacks large indoor gathering places.

But despite the change in location, GlobalFoundries will have a major role in the event. Manocha will be speaking, according to company spokesman Travis Bullard. Other GlobalFoundries executives will also be present, as will some GlobalFoundries employees who work at the college.

Manocha said the visit highlights how a tech cluster has started to form around the Capital Region.

“We are proud of the role we are playing as a leading semiconductor manufacturer, investing in the new R&D and manufacturing operations now driving innovation, creating new jobs, and increasing economic opportunities throughout the Capital Region,” he said.

GlobalFoundries is investing $6.9 billion in the Malta site, creating thousands of spin-off and support industry jobs, as well as about 1,600 at the manufacturing plant itself.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is among those expected to attend the event.

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