Trump rally could bring thousands to Chesapeake Friday, along with traffic and road closures (2024)

CHESAPEAKE — It’s been mostly business as usual in the days leading up to former President Donald Trump’s expected appearance, but city officials say the event could bring thousands to the area and they anticipate road closures and heavy traffic Friday, and Sentara Healthcare announced some office closures Thursday.

Trump will hold a 3 p.m. campaign rally at the Historic Greenbrier Farms, just off the Chesapeake Expressway. Gates open at 11 a.m., according to the Trump campaign website.

It’s not known how many people the farm can support for the event, but its website markets “unlimited” capacity for certain areas of the 500-acre farm, including estate grounds and natural spaces. A Chesapeake spokesperson said the city has heard “anecdotally” that the event could draw up to 10,000. However, it’s not known how many tickets will be offered.

The rally will be a day after the first presidential debate in Atlanta between Trump and President Joe Biden, hosted by CNN. Though Democrats have won Virginia in four consecutive presidential elections, eyes are on the Old Dominion as a key battleground state in November, with recent polls showing the two candidates neck-and-neck.

Glenn Youngkin is expected to be at the rally, marking the first time the Republican governor has stood alongside Trump in the campaign season. Youngkin was previously regarded as a presidential hopeful, but never threw his hat in the ring. The governor did not attend a Trump rally in Richmond ahead of Super Tuesday this year.

Social media reaction has been mixed, with some criticizing the farm for hosting the event and stating they would no longer support it. Others are voicing concerns with traffic in an area they say already struggles with congestion.

On behalf of Greenbrier Farms tenant Basnight Land & Lawn, Tori Basnight, who said she was a member of the family, declined to provide details on Tuesday about logistics and how the event was being organized. Additional attempts to reach her were unsuccessful.

But some neighboring business owners say they’re not expecting anything too out of the ordinary. Gray Livingston, owner of Pale Horse Coffee about 4 miles away on South Battlefield Boulevard, said he doesn’t expect much additional patronage since the event will be right off the Chesapeake Expressway.

Fridays are usually busy at the coffee shop, so extra staff will be on standby, Livingston said, especially if “Trump decides to stop by for a cup of coffee,” he joked. Livingston added that he plans to attend the event and noted that he’s allowed political events from both sides of the aisle to use his space before.

Next door, Serene Massage co-owner Jeanne Shepard said she’s encouraged by the extra traffic, so her business is taking advantage by placing additional signs outside for greater visibility to those driving past.

Hassan Hajama, owner of Lily’s Crepes 5 miles away at the Glenwood Shopping Center, said he hopes to “be busier than normal.” He said the restaurant is accustomed to seeing increased patronage during local car show events, so they’re prepared to handle the additional traffic.

As one moves off the expressway, the roads leading to the farm turn into two-lane, winding highways in an area surrounded mostly by vast swaths of land and large subdivisions. As of Tuesday, signs are already posted specifying local traffic only on the roads leading to the event Friday.

Though it’s not a city-sponsored event, a Chesapeake spokesperson said staff is working with the U.S. Secret Service to assist with security and public safety, but primarily traffic control. Chesapeake officials urge residents to prepare for heavy traffic congestion Friday and certain road closures. Beginning at 8 a.m., Sign Pine Road will be open to local traffic only and remain closed until the event is over. Drivers should expect intermittent closures throughout the day along the Chesapeake Expressway and Interstate 64.

Chesapeake’s public safety force — police, fire, sheriff and EMS — will be on-site.

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Sentara offices close

Three Sentara offices in Chesapeake will be closed Thursday because of former President Donald Trump’s scheduled visit, according to a news release.

Multiple road closures and expected traffic delays led the health care system to close Sentara Family Medicine & Pediatrics and the Sentara Therapy Center at Sentara Edinburgh, as well as Sentara Edinburgh Diagnostic Center.

The offices notified patients with scheduled appointments, and their appointments have either been changed to virtual care or rescheduled, the release said. Walk-in lab and imaging care are available at the Advanced Imaging Center at Sentara BelleHarbour in Suffolk.

Sentara encourages patients at its other Chesapeake locations to plan for extra travel time, and to contact their providers’ offices with any questions.

Katrina Dix contributed to this report.

Natalie Anderson, 757-732-1133, natalie.anderson@virginiamedia.com

Trump rally could bring thousands to Chesapeake Friday, along with traffic and road closures (2024)
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