It's graduation day for Jackson State University, and First Lady Michelle Obama will be the featured speaker for the commencement ceremony. 55,000 people are expected to attend, and with large numbers comes major traffic delays.
Below is a verbatim statement from The Fondren Renaissance welcoming the First Lady and warning residents of traffic delays:
*55,000 people are expected to attend Jackson State University‘s commencement on Saturday, a ticketed, not “general admission” event. First Lady Michelle Obama will be the featured speaker for the ceremony that begins at 3pm at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium.
As with any visitor of Mrs. Obama’s caliber, major traffic delays will begin on Saturday as early as 9am. (No streets will be affected on Friday).
Jackson Police Department District Commander James McGowan said by phone Lakeland Drive should not be affected but the interstate, from the airport to Woodrow Wilson (on to West Street) will be. Streets immediately surrounding the stadium will be blocked. This, he says, will not affect the streets of the historic Fondren business district. “If you have a business, you should have a captive audience to sell to Saturday as cars will be all over the neighborhood.”
One place they will NOT be allowed to park is Woodrow Wilson. McGowan says, “Vehicles will be towed if left parked along this route.”
It is believed the First Lady will speak shortly after 3pm and leave the stadium around 4pm. Street closures from earlier in the day will once again occur. Expect heavy traffic congestion most of Saturday. “In this area, no one should expect to get anywhere in any hurry on Saturday, period,” he noted.
A University of Mississippi Medical spokesman says hospital employees are advised to anticipate delays. “We don’t know how bad (delays) will be but we’re planning as best as we can. We are opening extra lots on campus to allow to them to park here instead of at the stadium.”
They also advise calling 911 in an emergency. “Persons experiencing a condition such as a heart attack, a severe laceration or other potentially life-threatening condition or obstetrical emergency on Saturday should not attempt to reach any of the three hospital emergency departments in a private vehicle if at all possible.”*