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Coast Guard eyes bridge security zone for Biden home visits

Coast Guard vessels seen in a Facebook post on Aug. 4, 2020. According to reports on Tuesday, April 6, 2021, the Coast Guard is proposing to establish a security zone for protection of "Very Important Persons" as they travel by vehicle over the Route 141 bridge over the Christina River near Newport.

U.S. COAST GUARD CUTTER NARWHAL / FACEBOOK

By ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: April 6, 2021

DOVER, Del. — Motorists frustrated by traffic holdups whenever President Joseph Biden visits Delaware may soon have some water-borne company.

The Coast Guard is proposing to establish a security zone for protection of "Very Important Persons" as they travel by vehicle over the Route 141 bridge over the Christina River near Newport.

A proposed rule published Monday in the Federal Register would prohibit vessels and individuals, including swimmers, from entering or remaining within the security zone unless authorized by the Coast Guard while the VIPs traverse the bridge.

Coast Guard officials said the proposed rule is aimed at expediting security measures on short notice and protecting the VIPs and the public from sabotage, subversive acts or other malicious or potential terrorist acts.

The Coast Guard noted that it already has issued several temporary security zones around the bridge this year and that continued requests are expected through 2024.

When Biden has visited Delaware, his motorcade from the New Castle Airport to his Greenville home has caused traffic backups that can take an hour or more to clear.

But Coast Guard officials say the security zone should not significantly impact vessel traffic because of the short time it takes for the VIP vehicles to cross the bridge, and because vessel traffic on that portion of the Christina River is typically limited to recreational vessels.

When enforcing the security zone, officials would issue a notice over marine radio.

Officials are taking public comment on the proposed rule through May 5.