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The parking lot for President Donald Trump’s campaign rally filled to capacity at 3:15 p.m. Thursday, three hours before the event was to start.

Montana Highway Patrol troopers deployed at 3 p.m. to untangle a traffic jam that stretched from North Reserve Street to Missoula International Airport — approximately five miles — as attendees tried to reach the single access to parking for the rally.

Cars were backed up in all directions from the Aviation Way entry to the only parking area for the rally starting around noon. All attendees were required to travel from there by shuttle bus to the Minuteman Aviation venue a mile west of the airport. Trump was expected to arrive around 5 p.m., and begin speaking at 6:30 p.m.

About 50 early attendees were standing outside the Minuteman hanger at 2:30 p.m. waiting for a security check to get into the building. Protesters were not allowed within the airport property. However, several activists mounted signs and loudspeakers on trucks and drove up and down Broadway.

The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office said on Facebook that no parking would be allowed along U.S. Highway 10 between Reserve Street and Butler Creek Road. No pedestrian traffic would be allowed west of the airport terminal either.

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Natural Resources & Environment Reporter

Natural Resources Reporter for The Missoulian.