October 16, 2003

Traffic Floods Campus as Hotels Fill for Inauguration

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Avoid driving on campus tomorrow and just forget about taking that special someone for a romantic romp at a local motel this weekend.

Preparations for the inauguration of President Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77 and Trustee Council Weekend have local hotels strapped for space, and campus parking is on short supply.

“We’re completely full,” said Rick Adie ’75, general manager of the Statler Hotel.

Adie declined to comment on whether or not the Statler would be accommodating Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’54 or any other specific persons but indicated that “we will be accommodating many invited guests as well as family and friends of President Lehman.”

The Statler will be hosting a luncheon as well as a dinner for a large number of guests, but, according to Adie, no unusual stress is being placed on its catering staff because of the large number of events happening concurrently around the campus.

According to Adie, security for visiting dignitaries and invited guests at the hotel is going to be similar to other situations in which high-profile visitors are present on campus: “Last week we had the former president of Turkey. We don’t anticipate any problems,” he said.

Adie also added that most local hotels were completely booked for the weekend. “The councils are quite large and because of the historic nature of this weekend more people are likely to make the journey.”

The Best Western University Inn at East Hill Plaza is also booked. The Courtyard by Marriott near the Ithaca Airport has limited availability, according to its national reservation hotline.

Despite the University’s use of charter flights, US Airways, which serves Ithaca-Tompkins Regional Airport from New York-La Guardia, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, reported very low availability on flights into and out of Ithaca.

Lt. Kathy Zoner of the Cornell University Police Department explained that the CUPD will be assisting in providing security for high-profile visitors.

“We are going to work with whatever security staffs [visitors] bring with them,” she explained.

Zoner declined to comment on any specific actions that the CUPD will partake in.

The inauguration is also placing great demands on Transportation and Mail Services to provide transportation on campus and throughout Ithaca and the airport.

“We will be busing between downtown and Cornell,” said John Durbin, an administrator for Transportation and Mail Services, “as well as to and from events on campus.”

David Lieb ’89, communication and marketing manager for Transportation and Mail Services, said there will be shuttles operating throughout the day.

Lieb and Durbin explained that a combination of vans and CU Transit buses will provide transportation for trustees and other visitors.

Durbin explained that, “We will be closing roads to allow for the procession from the Arts Quad to Barton Hall. At 1 p.m. we will close East Avenue, then Tower Road and Garden Avenue at 1:15.”

Lieb commented that Tower Road and East Avenue would reopen for vehicle traffic soon after the procession. “Garden Avenue will remain closed until about 4 p.m.,” Lieb added.

The events also demand additional parking regulations.

“We need to ensure enough parking for the events and for our normal paying customers,” Lieb commented.

Durbin explained that the Crescent Lot will be used for reserve parking and a parking lot on Hoy Road for VIP cars. Parking for disabled persons will be provided in spaces normally used by the Statler outside the entrance to the hotel.

Lieb and Durbin do not expect the Stewart Avenue bridge closing to further complicate traffic issues.

Durbin indicated that since July over 20 meetings have been held to plan for parking and transportation.

Archived article by Chris Mitchell