"Probably early summer" is when Charlotteans will learn about street closings and other planned uptown changes due to September's Democratic National Convention.
That was the word Tuesday from Steve Kerrigan, the CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee.
During a lunch-time sitdown with Observer reporters and editors, Kerrigan said the DNCC and its various partners will alert people of the street closings, alternative routes and other changes "long in advance so that (they) can make plans to prepare for their commutes and prepare for how to go get groceries."
Kerrigan and DNCC spokeswoman Kristie Greco told the Observer that plans were also underway that should alleviate some of the expected congestion.
The thousands of delegates, for example, will be transported by buses, so they won't clog up the streets with their cars, Greco said, and many of those attending the convention won't come to the Time Warner Cable Arena until late afternoon or evening.
"Our intention is to make sure that uptown Charlotte remains open for business all week," Kerrigan said, "and that (local) folks feel like they should be able to bring their families . . . and come to uptown to experience what it's like to have a Democratic convention in your town."
Kerrigan said no decision has been made about the city's transit center. It's located right across the street from the arena, so will likely to be part of any security perimeter defined by the Secret Service.
Also undecided, he said, is where to put an area for demonstrators who come to town to protest.
Kerrigan also said that:
- President Obama's hope of winning North Carolina's 15 electoral votes this year was the key factor in deciding on Charlotte as the host city for the 2012 convention. "The political reasons outweigh anything else," he said. "It was obviously a finalist because it had the logistical capabilities . . . (But) it came down to 14,177 votes." That was the margin by which Obama carried the state in 2008. That year, Kerrigan added, "we didn't really need to win North Carolina (to take the White House). This time, it is much more important."
- The first view of Charlotte that Democratic delegates and others attending the convention will get will be the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. "I spend an awful lot of time at (the Charlotte airport)," he said. "And everyone I talk to around the country - if they haven't been to Charlotte, chances are they've been to the airport. And they love it . . . People know that airport as a welcoming, amazing place. A woman kept saying to me, 'I have my favorite rocking chair' and she's from California."