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Preparing for President Biden's visit to Wilkes-Barre

Newswatch 16 spoke with people all over the city about the president's visit, and we found excitement and some indifference.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — The White House has released new details about President Biden's trip to Wilkes-Barre on Thursday.

Air Force One is expected to land at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport around 1:30 p.m.

From there, the president will head to Wilkes University to speak about gun violence.

Newswatch 16 spoke with people all over the city about the president's visit, and we found excitement and some indifference.

"I hope I see him," said Jennifer O'Connor, a student at King's College."Not many people can say they've seen the president. I've never seen a president live and in the flesh."

"He's not going to go in a Republican area and talk about gun violence. I mean, they're mostly strong NRA," said Wilkes-Barre resident Richard Whitmoyer.

Folks in Wilkes-Barre tell Newswatch 16 that no matter where you sit on the political spectrum, it is exciting to have the president choose your city for a visit,

Some businesses based on appointments tell us that it's a little frustrating figuring out the logistics of it all. At Loyalty Barbershop on South Main Street, they worry about keeping scheduled appointments with the city, potentially shutting down several streets while the president is here.

"It's not a bad thing that he's coming here, but it would be nice to know that we can set up our schedules so that we can get to work on time, the people that are coming to see us can get here, and it can all work out," said Matt Malkemes at Loyalty Barbershop.

The president is coming to the Marts Center at Wilkes University to speak about how he wants to build on the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to combat gun crime.

"People that are going to commit crimes are going to get guns, whether you ban guns or not. It's a matter of when you catch somebody that's done gun violence, you put them away, you don't let them get back out because they're ones that know how to get over them," Whitmoyer said.

While some didn't share their views with Newswatch 16, they're interested in learning more about what the president has to say.

"He's from this area, so he should probably make it a point of coming home and trying to fix anything he can," Malkemes said.

"I feel honored," O'Connor added. "I feel like I have to be like my best dress tomorrow in case I run into him."

A confirmed member of the audience is Congressman Matt Cartwright, who's in a hotly contested race against Republican Jim Bognet. 

Pennsylvania is set to be a big player in the November midterm elections with races for a seat in the U.S. Senate and in the governor's mansion.

We don't know yet exactly which roads in the city will be shut down Thursday afternoon. 

Drivers can expect some traffic delays on Interstate 81 north and south once the president lands at the airport and starts to make his way to Wilkes University and again when he heads back for departure, which is expected to be around 4 p.m.

South Franklin Street around the Marts Center will be closed.

According to PennDOT,  there will be intermittent road closures on Interstate 81 north and southbound and SR 309 in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties between 12:30 PM to 5 PM as follows: 

  • I-81 South between mile markers 164 and 184;
  • I-81 South between mile markers 184 and 164;
  • SR 115 N / N Cross Valley Expressway North (SR 309 N) from I-81 to Exit 4 at Rutter Ave.; and
  • N Cross Valley Expressway South (SR 309 S) from Exit 5 Forty Fort to I-81

Click here for the latest traffic conditions.

This will be the second time Biden has visited our region as president. He spoke in Scranton in October of 2021.

RELATED: Pres. Joe Biden visits hometown of Scranton

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