Catherine Ross, NBC 5 News
Beginning Wednesday and lasting through Friday, drivers and pedestrians around SMU can expect road closures and major delays. Security is being stepped up in preparation for the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center dedication on Thursday morning.
Residents of Dallas and Highland Park, as well as students at Southern Methodist University, are getting ready for a very high profile and high security week.
On Thursday, the George W. Bush Presidential Center will celebrate its dedication, an invitation-only event scheduled to host all of the living presidents, from George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush, to President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, to Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush.
The list of confirmed invitees also includes dozens of high profile public servants, including former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, Former Attorneys General John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales, and former Education Secretary Rod Paige.
“It’s exciting that they’re all coming, but it’s a little nerve-wracking considering the events of the past week,” said Jacquelyn Gamino, who lives in a neighborhood near campus.
Gamino says she is already planning how to re-route her commute, given the large number of road closures in the area.
Beginning Wednesday and ending late Friday, most roads into campus at SMU will be closed.
Students also tell NBC 5 they’ve been told to expect several lengthy security checkpoints if they leave and re-enter campus.
However, the significance of the event is not lost on the younger generation.
“Even though it might be a pain for like a week, when I look back on it, I can be like – oh yeah, we had all the presidents on my campus!” said SMU freshman Caroline Fountain.
Drivers in the US-75 corridor have been warned by the university to expect major congestion in the coming week.
On Thursday, the frontage road of Central Expressway will be closed between University Boulevard and Mockingbird Lane.
NBC 5 will provide live coverage of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. We will provide an encore presentation Thursday at 6:30 p.m. on COZI TV on Digital Channel 5.2