Downtown Street Closures Will Get Worse Tuesday With President's Visit

Four days after the deadly ambush of Dallas police officers, parts of downtown Dallas are still closed, specifically the area around El Centro College.

Roughly a five-block-by-five-block square in downtown remains closed because of the on-going criminal investigation.

Lori Ann Bodino, an administrator with the Dallas County District Courts, said the downtown traffic situation Monday morning created some headaches for trials at the George Allen Courts Building.

Some judges were 45 minutes to an hour late getting to court and scores of jurors were also late in checking in.

Street closures Tuesday are expected to double or even triple in size, according to county sources briefed by Homeland Security agents, due to President Barack Obama's visit for Tuesday's memorial service at the Meyerson Symphony Center. Officials are not talking about any temporary street closures for the president's visit, citing security concerns.

Because of the expanded street closure map, all jury duty at the George Allen building is canceled for Tuesday. That impacts 400 people who received a jury summons.

Dallas' tallest building, the 72-story Bank of America building, was closed Monday, but may open Tuesday.

Vehicles in the Texas Club parking garage will have to stay for several more days, officials said Monday evening, and El Centro College remains closed through July 17.

Some downtown streets will reopen by 5 a.m. Tuesday as the crime scene gets smaller, but parts of Main Street and Austin Street remain closed.

The West End DART station will reopen at 5 a.m.

Many people, perhaps tourists or visitors, appeared confused by the barricades, and attempted to walk through the cones and between police cruisers.

All Monday afternoon, Dallas police officers protecting the crime scene had to direct traffic and deal with office workers and visitors trying to navigate around.

For the thousands of downtown Dallas workers who did return to their offices Monday, it was a sad and emotional sight to see federal agents canvassing the streets outside.

"It's freaky still, to know that it happened, that it happened, right there," said Katy Vallo, a legal assistant who works downtown.

She also noticed a lot of "gawkers" taking photos and watching the crime scene investigation unfold before their eyes.

"There's more people than there usually is down here. I don't know what they're all doing outside my building," Vallo said.

Police said it's been a difficult day, but they're dedicated to doing their jobs.

"I think we're all still hurting. But again, we're police officers. We're going to continue to go out and serve the citizens," said Dallas Police Association President Ron Pinkston.

Pinkston knew some of the fallen Dallas officers personally, and has spoken with their families many times since the ambush.

"We’re going to continue to go out and serve the citizens. We’re going to protect them. We’re going to do what these five officers were doing," he said. "We’re going to follow in their footsteps and serve the public admirably."

Police said they're not rushing anything, which is why they won't give a precise timeline at this point for when the crime scene will clear.

It's frustrating for some, but also understandable.

"It's a bit frustrating, sure," said Alaina Clark, who also works downtown. "But I would rather that they take as much time as they need and make sure that it's safe again for all of us."

County officials said it may be another "day or two" before all downtown streets are back open.

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