President Trump, first lady depart for Tokyo after whirlwind stop in Honolulu

President Donald Trump and first lady, Melania, left on Air Force One from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam at about 7:20 a.m. Saturday as scheduled.

There were brief road closures on surface streets and the H-1 Freeway that started about 30 minutes before the president left for Tokyo for his first official trip to Asia.

He will visit Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines — his longest trip to date as president.

Before leaving Waikiki, the president made an unannounced stop at Trump International Hotel Waikiki to greet employees.

It was a whirlwind trip for the couple, who spent less than 24 hours on Oahu.

A crowd gathered at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam ahead of the president’s arrival Friday afternoon. Air Force One touched down shortly before 1 p.m.

The Trumps were greeted by Gov. David Ige, his wife, Dawn, U.S. Navy Adm. Harry Harris Jr., commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, his wife, Bruni Bradley, and Mikayla Webb, daughter of Harris’ aid.

They proceeded to meet waiting well-wishers on the tarmac before getting into separate vehicles.

Freeway closures went into effect at 1 p.m. and reopened at around 1:40 p.m. after the presidential motorcade made its way to U.S. Pacific Command, where he received a briefing from Harris.

Trump said, “I’ll tell you this is very special to be in Hawaii and to be visiting very shortly Pearl Harbor, which I’ve read about, spoken about, heard about, studied but I haven’t seen. And it’s going to be very exciting for me so thank you very much. You have a lot of tough people and a lot of talented people and I appreciate it.”

The first lady proceeded directly into Waikiki and arrived at the Ritz-Carlton, Waikiki Beach Resort shortly before 2 p.m.

The president left Camp Smith at around 2:15 p.m. heading into town. The freeway was reopened by 3 p.m.

At around 4:30 p.m., closures went into effect as Trump and the first lady made their way to Pearl Harbor. They toured the USS Arizona Memorial and paid their respects by laying a wreath and observing a moment of silence.

The couple then tossed flowers into the water where the USS Arizona came to rest nearly 76 years ago.

After leaving, the couple paid a short visit to service members, then returned to Waikiki.

Driver Adam Asing was stuck in the westbound lanes for about 35 minutes, but despite the gridlock, he says, “Everyone was in good spirits. People were jumping out their cars, talking story, and taking pictures.”

In Waikiki, the following street closures were in effect. Some pedestrian access was prohibited in areas designated off-limits by the U.S. Secret Service:

  • Kuhio Avenue between Kalaimoku and Kaiolu streets
  • Kalaimoku Street between Kalakaua and Kuhio avenues
  • Two mauka lanes of Kalakaua Avenue between Kalaimoku Street and Saratoga Road

Closures began at 9:45 p.m. Thursday and lasted through Saturday morning.

Traffic control barricades were installed on Kalakaua and Kuhio avenues. There were two travel lanes open on Kalakaua Avenue between Kuhio Avenue and Saratoga Road. Kuhio Avenue was closed between Olohana and Kaiolu streets. All vehicular traffic on Saratoga Road heading mauka was diverted to Kalakaua Avenue.

A contraflow from Ala Wai Boulevard was set up for residents to access Kalaimoku and Launiu streets. Police officers were on site to assist motorists.

The City and County’s Traffic Management Center was fully staffed to adjust traffic signals to improve flow on side streets.

TheBus and TheHandi-Van services still ran, but they were delayed due to traffic (see map below). Some bus stops were closed in Waikiki.

Those who had an event in Waikiki were advised to plan ahead and leave early.

“Normally what happens is it’s a full route, road closure. That’s why you see that extended amount of time. When you’re talking about an hour, hour and a half, a lot of it is first clearing the roadways of any traffic, then basically involving simultaneously with the closure, and then the movement,” said Assistant Chief Clyde Ho, Honolulu Police Department. “The movement, it shouldn’t be surprising, is actually the quickest part. The one that takes the longest is actually the movement of vehicles outside of that route.”

The City Department of Human Services issued a memo that authorized city employees to take vacation on Friday if they wish to do so. State Oahu Executive Branch employees were also encouraged to take vacation Friday, except for Department of Education and University of Hawaii employees.

According to a memo issued by the Department of Human Resources Development: “Supervisors are asked to accommodate such leave requests while ensuring continued operations affecting health, safety and other previously identified essential public services.”

No beaches or Ala Wai Canal were closed or restricted, officials note.

Update from the Associated Press:

“President Donald Trump plans to meet with the governors of Alaska and Hawaii and Pacific U.S. territories amid ongoing tensions with North Korea.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker says the meeting, scheduled for Friday in Hawaii, is expected to focus on Trump’s upcoming trip to Asia and “Pacific theater issues” affecting the governors.

Walker says the governors of Guam, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands were invited.

Walker plans to travel to Hawaii with Trump’s team from Washington, D.C., where Walker testified before a U.S. Senate committee in support of opening a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration.

Walker has raised concerns with North Korea weapon’s tests and suggested the strategic importance of having a naval base in the state.”

Officials anticipated several protests while the president is in town. The group Hawaii J20+ rallied Friday from 4-6 p.m. at the State Capitol.

The city issued a permit for a march on Saturday led by the groups World Can’t Wait Hawaii and Refuse Fascism Hawaii. It began at 10 a.m. at Ala Moana Regional Park and ended at 11 a.m. with a rally at Thomas Square Park.

“We absolutely support the First Amendment and free expression and the right to protest. It’s part of our form of democracy, and there will be places to allow protests,” said Caldwell.

Supporters also rallied around town.

Some flights were impacted by the president’s arrival, including flights for Makani Kai and Mokulele airlines.

Rob McKinney, president of Mokulele Airlines, tells us passengers flying to Honolulu from Molokai or Kapalua normally do not need to be screened by the Transportation Security Administration. But because the president flew into town, they had to.

“(TSA) went out of their way to adjust their procedures and then we’re going to adjust ours so that for the time when the president is on island, our passengers will be screened by TSA in those airports, so we should be able to operate fairly close to normally,” he said. “TSA is already there, but they’re there for our competitors. The nature of the Mokuele operation, we normally don’t use their services there. But since they’re already there and set up, they will allow our passengers to go through that same screening apparatus.

“Because they are only set up to operate when they’re required to be there for competitor airline, there will be a few flights, probably mostly in the middle of the day, that will be impacted. We’re working on that right now to see what the limit will be, but it should be more than one or two flights,” McKinney added.

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