HAMPTON, Va. — One of the country's most important elected officials visited Hampton University on Thursday.
Vice President Kamala Harris kicked off a country-wide "Fight For Our Freedoms" college tour at Hampton University as she makes trips to roughly a dozen public universities and HBCUs across the country. She discussed the upcoming Virginia elections, abortion access in Virginia and attacks on DEI (Diversity, equity, and inclusion).
This trip comes about two years after another, smaller-scale visit by Harris to Hampton University's grounds. In the fall of 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Harris participated in a roundtable discussion about minority students in STEM programs.
3 p.m. — Harris' visit causes traffic issues around Hampton University
The vice president's visit caused some drivers to sit in long lines of traffic. Police shut down roads around Hampton University, causing delays for up to 30 minutes.
While traffic is clear now, 13News Now’s Emily Harrison spoke with frustrated drivers and students about the traffic jams.
"I understand the VP is here and we want to make sure she's safe and comfortable, but school is still in session, we still have to go to class,” one person told 13News Now.
1:30 p.m. — Republican group criticizes Harris' visit to Virginia
Mason Di Palma, a spokesperson for the Republican State Leadership Committee, shared a statement criticizing Harris' visit to Virginia.
“Virginia Democrats must be incredibly desperate if they're relying on the least popular Vice President in history to come to Virginia to save the day,” Palma wrote. “Virginians know that this administration has failed them and are looking to state Republicans for continued leadership that led to tax cuts, empowering parents and making our communities safer.”
12:38 p.m. — Harris arrives on stage
Vice President Harris took to the stage a few minutes after 12:30 p.m. as part of her "Fight For Our Freedoms" college tour.
12:15 p.m. — What kind of bird is this?
13News Now Reporter Emily Harrison captured a video of a possible bald eagle flying over Hampton University ahead of Vice President Harris' arrival.
"Any experts know if this is a bald eagle?" Harrison asked on X, formerly known as Twitter.
12 p.m. — Traffic on I-64 moving again
Cars are moving along on Interstate 64 again after Vice President Harris traveled from Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport to Hampton University.
As of 12 p.m., VDOT traffic cameras between the airport and the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel are still disabled.
11:40 a.m. — A packed house at Hampton University
11:35 a.m. — Heavy traffic on I-64 on the Peninsula
Several of the Virginia Department of Transportation's cameras along Interstate 64 have been disabled in Newport News and Hampton. An active camera near Industrial Park Drive in Newport News shows heavy traffic in the eastbound lanes of the interstate.
Interstate 664 is also experiencing heavy traffic in the northbound lanes. Here's what the road near the Aberdeen Road exit in Hampton looks like:
11:25 a.m. — Part of Settlers Landing Road blocked off
11:15 a.m. — Harris arrives at Newport News/Williamsburg Int'l Airport
Vice President Harris arrived at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport around 10:45 a.m., according to ABC News, and was greeted by Newport News Mayor Phillip Jones.
The airport is around 20 minutes from Ogden Hall at Hampton University.
11 a.m. — Ogden Hall at Hampton University fills up
Ogden Hall at Hampton University is filling up as we move closer to time for Vice President Harris' event.
9:50 a.m. — How Kamala Harris' visit will affect Hampton traffic, bus routes
Vice President Harris is expected to arrive at Hampton University in the late morning and leave in the early- or mid-afternoon hours. City officials are letting people know to expect potential traffic delays during that time.
The visit will also impact Hampton Roads Transit's bus service.
People going to the Hampton VA Medical Center are advised to use HRT's Route 120, which stops at the intersection of County and Mallory streets, about a half-mile away.
HRT's Route 961 will detour Thursday, missing all stops at Eaton and Mill Point and at Settlers Landing and Hampton Harbor, as well as outbound stops at Pembroke and Wine, according to city officials.
Hampton University students share excitement over Vice President Kamala Harris visit
This trip comes about two years after another, smaller-scale visit by Harris to Hampton University's grounds. In fall of 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Harris participated in a roundtable discussion about minority students in STEM programs.
The event then was limited to a handful of students, and was not an open-press event.
Lillian Carr, Hampton's Student Government Association President, estimates roughly 1,200 students and staff and other personnel will fill Ogden Hall for the discussion this go around.
“Having that presence on campus shows me, 'Wow there are people who out there, women out there becoming involved in powers that 100 years ago our ancestors would not believe,'" freshman Alessandra Garron said.