Drivers urged to use North Road detour during Obama vacation

Message boards are already in place warning motorists of impending detours. — Photo by Steve Myrick

Updated 4:15 pm Friday, August 9, 2013

The Secret Service is set to close a short section of South Road to vehicles Saturday, August 10 at 2 pm through Sunday, August 18, to create a secure zone around the private home on Snail Road where President Obama and his family will stay during their vacation on Martha’s Vineyard.

Message signs advising motorists of the impending detours are already posted.

The president and first family are scheduled to arrive by Air Force One at the Cape Cod Coast Guard Air Station in mid-afternoon, and fly to the Martha’s Vineyard Airport aboard Marine One, the presidential helicopter.

The airport arrival is closed to the public.

While there are several ways to get around the road closure, Chilmark Police Chief Brian Ciofi is urging people to use North Road, which forks off State Road near Banana’s clothing store in West Tisbury.

“The preferred route for everybody to travel up-Island, to points in Chilmark and Aquinnah, is North Road,” Chief Cioffi said. “Middle Road is narrower and it’s not a preferred route. Meetinghouse Road is a bumpy dirt road.”

South Road will be open to Meetinghouse Road for drivers traveling up-Island, once the road closure is in place. Coming from Aquinnah, South Road will be open to Wooten Bassett Road.

Only abutters and emergency vehicles will be allowed to pass through security check points between Meeting House Road and Wooton Bassett Road, for the duration of the Obamas’ vacation.

The section of road that will be closed is a nondescript stretch of South Road, about a half-mile before Abel’s Hill, for those traveling up-Island.

Other signs of increased security are already evident. Coast Guard vessels and the Oak Bluffs Fire and Police boat accompanied the Steamship Authority ferry Island home during its passage and while the ferry was in port Friday afternoon.

The White House advance team arrived at Martha’s Vineyard Airport aboard a military aircraft Friday afternoon, and traveled to the Obama family vacation rental.

Secret Service agents are already a visible presence on the Island, as are the network television and print journalists assigned to cover the president’s trip.