Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia is still a week away, but the place where the biggest events of his visit are already being set up and that means more than a week of traffic woes for drivers.
The outer lanes of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from Logan Square (19th and Race streets) to Eakins Oval (in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art) closed Saturday morning. The closure comes after the inner lanes were already closed to set-up for the Festival of Families concert and papal Mass.
The closure will last well past the Mass, not returning to normal until Sunday, Oct. 4, said Philadelphia Police.
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During the closure, motorists will be diverted from the Martin Luther King Drive inbound onto I-676 and won’t be able to get onto the MLK Drive from Eakins Oval. They will also need to transverse Fairmount back streets to get onto or off the Kelly Drive, said police.
“There will be officers assigned to direct traffic at key intersections,” said a police news release. “However, traffic will still be extremely heavy since the streets around the Parkway are not large enough to carry the volume of traffic that would normally use the Parkway and the river drives.”
The Schuylkill Expressway (I-76) could also be used as an alternate to the river drives.
People who normally park near the Art Museum will also need to clear out their cars as early as Sunday at 6 p.m. as the Philadelphia Parking Authority plans on towing vehicles (and hand out $250 fines) from the parking zone around the area of 22nd Street and the Parkway.
The PPA website has more details on parking restrictions leading up to and during the papal visit.
The road closures comes as officials have lowered some estimates of how many people will actually show up to see Pope Francis.