The John Belk Freeway will close for a day, and nearly 30 uptown streets will be restricted or shut down.
Fourteen checkpoints will go in place for pedestrians and six more for vehicles. Delivery trucks will get screened before entering a restricted area uptown.
And much of Charlotte’s center city will be a no-parking zone.
The federal government released its long-awaited security plan for next month’s Democratic National Convention Wednesday, a moving security envelope that will follow the DNC as it moves from Time Warner Cable Arena to Bank of America Stadium.
Despite the inconveniences, city officials pledged Wednesday that uptown will remain “open for business,” during the convention, Sept. 4-6.
“Folks that want to stay open will be able to stay open,” said Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, a Democrat.
Tryon Street will be open for vehicles, pedestrians and protesters for the entire DNC, though it will be closed on Sunday, Sept. 2, and Monday, Sept. 3, for the DNC host committee’s CarolinaFest from Morehead to Sixth streets.
The intersection of Trade and Tryon streets – which is two blocks from the Time Warner Cable Arena – will be open for pedestrians. That means The Square could become ground zero for those protesting during the convention.
Will businesses stay open?
The closures will challenge uptown businesses, including some of the city’s largest employers, including Bank of America and Wells Fargo.
While Tryon Street will be open during much of the DNC, it will become a one-way street for northbound traffic between Stonewall and 12th streets from 6 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4, through Wednesday, Sept. 5. Most east-west streets crossing it in uptown will be closed.
That could make it difficult for commuters to access large parking garages used by office workers in city office buildings.
At Bank of America, which employs about 15,000 people in Charlotte, each department has made plans to keep business activities running, spokesman Scott Silvestri said. That includes encouraging employees to work from a mix of uptown offices, alternate bank facilities and their homes, he said.
“We’re committed to serving our customers and clients as usual during that week,” Silvestri said. “In order to do that efficiently and effectively, we’ll make the appropriate adjustments.”
Wells Fargo is encouraging workers based in other cities to avoid traveling to Charlotte for meetings during the convention, bank officials said. The San Francisco-based lender, which employs about 20,000 in the Charlotte area, is also considering alternatives for local workers, including the option to work from home.
Wells plans to close a Wells Fargo Advisors location uptown and its bank branch at Third and Tryon streets during the convention.
James Bazzelle, owner of Mert’s Heart and Soul, said he’s booked a number of private parties during convention week, which in many respects is better than depending on walk-in traffic.
“We’re going to sell food,” Bazzelle said. “Every restaurant will sell food. Every restaurant conventioneers can find.”
But staying supplied will be a chore: Trucks delivering food, including caterers and food and beverage suppliers, must first go to a remote delivery site at 900 N. Davidson St. for screening. They will then be escorted to their destinations.
Security vs. mobility
Foxx said officials have spent the past year trying to come up with a plan that would “strike the best balance we can between security and mobility.”
To prepare for the DNC, the Secret Service has requested 2 miles of concrete barriers and more than five miles of 9-foot “anti-scale” steel fence. In addition, the federal government requested nearly 8 miles of lightweight metal barriers and portable barriers designed to withstand the impact of a 15,000-pound car at 30 mph.
The planned road closures will vary during the week, but are expected to begin at 9 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 2. Some could last for four days, according to a 19-page document released Wednesday morning.
There are three vehicle checkpoints for both areas surrounding Time Warner Cable Arena and Bank of America Stadium.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Rodney Monroe says managing traffic “is probably our biggest test” during the convention.
Perhaps the biggest inconvenience is the federal government’s plan to close the John Belk Freeway from Interstate 77 and Independence Boulevard, for Thursday Sept. 6. That section of Interstate 277 handles 80,000 vehicles a day.
For pedestrians, a one-block radius of streets surrounding Time Warner Cable Arena will be sealed off. Only people with credentials will be allowed inside that perimeter.
However, the Secret Service announced that there will be a larger area with “limited access” for pedestrians. That includes East Fourth Street, from the Mecklenburg County Courthouse at North McDowell Street to South College Street.
In a news release, the Secret Service said people who wish to enter the limited access areas must go “through a security checkpoint to identify their destination.” There will be 14 checkpoints in uptown, mostly in between the Charlotte Convention Center and the arena.
The checkpoints will be for all people who wish to enter. Pedestrians who live or work in the area will be allowed to enter, said CMPD spokesperson Brian Cunningham.
While it may be difficult to get around much of uptown, there are no restrictions on pedestrians on the sidewalks on both sides of Tryon Street.
At Trade and Tryon, two quadrants of The Square are city-owned property designated as “public forum” areas, which allow people to congregate and protest.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center will be open Sept. 4-6, though employees and visitors will be subject to increased security screenings. Mail and trash pickups also will occur on a normal schedule, according to the plan. Trash trucks will be inspected and then escorted in the most secure areas.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Heath Morrison said the district does not plan to close any schools during the week of the DNC. Staff writers Andrew Dunn, Kirsten Valle Pittman and Kathleen Purvis contributed to this story