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Working to keep Bush safe
President's visit Thursday to impact air, river transportation

By Eric Fleischauer 340-2435

President Bush's planned visit to Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant on Thursday will bring air and river transportation to a short standstill, but officials do not expect major disruptions.

Bush is touring the plant a month after the restart of Unit 1, which was five years and $1.8 billion in the making. The Tennessee Valley Authority closed Unit 1 in 1985 for safety reasons.

The White House said Air Force One would arrive at Huntsville International Airport shortly after noon Thursday. After touring Browns Ferry, the president will make remarks about energy initiatives, including his support for legislation to encourage the construction of nuclear plants.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday issued a temporary Notice to Airmen restricting flight near Huntsville International Airport and Browns Ferry.

The temporary notice places strict guidelines on aircraft within 12 miles of Browns Ferry and Huntsville International, with looser restrictions extending to 35 miles from the two points. The restrictions apply to all aircraft flying below 18,000 feet.

No crop dusters may enter the protected airspace, and all aircraft must constantly emit a radio signal, designated by the air traffic controller, while in the protected airspace during Bush's visit.

Laura Gibson, public relations manager for Huntsville International, said any impact on other commercial flights at the airport should be minor.

"We are working with local law enforcement agencies, bringing in agencies from the surrounding area, and working with the White House to secure the arrival and departure of Air Force One," Gibson said.

"We're trying to keep disruptions to other flights as minimal as possible," she said, "while doing our duty to aid the president in his trip to Browns Ferry."

A spokesman for Redstone Arsenal said temporary flight restrictions would halt flight operations there during Bush's arrival and departure.

Stan Smith, general manager of Pryor Field Regional Airport, said Bush's visit would require the airport to suspend all takeoffs and landings for a short period Thursday.

The visit will impact river traffic, too.

TVA spokesman Gil Francis said all river traffic would be shut down while the president is at Browns Ferry, which abuts the Tennessee River.

"They will shut down the river for a period of time," Francis said.

He said TVA police would work with the Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Secret Service to maintain security on the river adjacent to Browns Ferry, which is popular with recreational boaters. The plant is directly across the river from a campground with a boat dock.

Francis said the river would be closed to barge traffic, also.

The various agencies would meet to work out details, he said, Wednesday morning.

After leaving Browns Ferry, Bush is attending a 5 p.m. reception for U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, in Mobile. Tickets for the event are $1,000.

A spokesman said Gov. Bob Riley would be unable to attend either event because he was unable to cut short a trip to Paris for the Paris Air Show.

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