Security arrangements for the Obamas create gridlock in Washington, D.C.

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Washington, January 6 (ANI): Streets were closed around the Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington, D.C., for the arrival of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama and his family Monday.

People were stunned to the security arrangements that led to the placement of barricades, and gridlock outside the hotel.

"They've never closed off any streets that I can remember," the Washington Times quoted said Jim Calderon, who moved to the District 30 years ago, as saying.

Calderon revealed that he used his local knowledge to peddle his bicycle right down 16th Street Northwest in front of the hotel, as motorists merged and took detours around the security perimeter.

"I'm surprised that they're allowing pedestrians on the sidewalk across the hotel," he said.

According to the newspaper report, the gridlock around the hotel was at its worst in the morning when Michelle Obama and Mr. Obama's daughters left for their first day of school at Sidwell Friends, a private Quaker school.

Sasha, 7, will go to the Friends lower school in Bethesda, and 10-year-old Malia will attend classes at the school's Wisconsin Avenue Northwest campus.

"There were press releases (about the roadblocks), but I'm not sure people knew what they were getting into," WTOP traffic reporter Bob Marbourg said.

D.C. Department of Transportation spokeswoman Karyn LeBlanc said: "The (roadblocks) definitely created delays. Some people were confused."

She, however, expressed optimism that the traffic situation would improve because motorists had realised the extent of the potential delays.

"We recommend people find alternative routes and alternative means of transportation," she said.

However, there were people who were excited to enjoy a first glimpse of Obama, who will be the first black U.S. president.

"I really wasn't sure how close they'd let people be," said Philip Cowlishaw, who snapped a quick photo of the hotel, blocks from the White House while en route to his restaurant job in the city's Chinatown neighbourhood.

The Obamas will be staying at the hotel until January 15, when the family will move into the Blair House across from the White House. (ANI)

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