Officials are warning Philadelphia residents that the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and some highways will be closed during the visit of Pope Francis next month.
Delaware River Port Authority officials said the bridge between Philadelphia and New Jersey will be closed to vehicles from Friday, Sept. 25 at 10 p.m. until about noon on Monday, Sept. 28. The bridge will remain open to pedestrians crossing between New Jersey and Philadelphia.
Philadelphia traffic restrictions will be the most widespread the city has ever imposed, Mayor Michael Nutter said, because this papal visit is a “once in a lifetime” event for Philadelphia.
“What’s different here are the proportions of the event being so large and the impacts that are all going to happen at at the same time,” he said.
Driving will be limited by a “traffic box” extending north and south of the city center and to a portion of West Philadelphia, Nutter said. Drivers will be able to leave the “box” but will not be allowed to re-enter, with authorized vehicle access roads for emergency vehicles only.
“Boundaries are as follows for the Center City traffic box,” said Nuutter. “The northern boundary: Spring Garden to Ridge, Ridge to Girard, Girard to the Schuylkill River. Southern boundary: South Street, river to river. The eastern boundary: Delaware Avenue from South Street to Spring Garden. The western boundary runs along the edge of the Schuylkill River, cuts up Kelly Drive, stopping just below the Girard Avenue Bridge.”
The Schuylkill Expressway from the Blue Route to the Walt Whitman Bridge, the Vine Street Expressway and the Ben Franklin Bridge all will be closed for the papal weekend.
City courts will be closed and some city services limited.