A fence is going up and driving inside the "traffic box" won't be easy while the Pope is in town.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced Thursday that vehicles must be removed from certain roads inside a "secure vehicle perimeter" that covers parts of Center City, the Art Museum District and Old City during Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia at the end of September.
"There can be no vehicles in the secure perimeter area," said Nutter.
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The Secret Service will also institute a "secure vehicle perimeter" that is marked by the black line. No cars can be in that area, which covers the area around City Hall, the Art Museum, Washington Square and Independence Hall.
Only cars parked in closed garages will be allowed in that area during the Pope visit weekend.
"Every street outside of the 'secure vehicle perimeter' is open except the authorized vehicle access roads," said Nutter.
Pedestrians can also walk freely in those areas but must be either ticketed or screened, said Nutter.
Inside the so-called "traffic box," motorists can drive but they can't leave that area and come back, said Nutter. They also may find it difficult to get around with potentially thousands of pedestrians walking about.
Nutter confirmed that an actual fence -- with ADA-compliant metal detectors at access points -- will be erected around the Ben Franklin Parkway and parts of Old City where the Pope will appear. Nutter said food and water should be allowed in the zone but that an entire list of allowable items will be available in the coming weeks.
"The eyes of the world will be turned toward Philadelphia," said Nutter.
Nutter said a multifaceted plan to keep everyone safe during the weekend's events are starting to take shape.
The "secure vehicle perimeter" zone for the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will go in effect at 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24. The smaller security zone for Independence Mall will go into effect at 10 p.m., Friday, Sept. 25. Checkpoints will be put into effect in each location starting the next morning.
And vehicles will not be allowed on "authorized vehicle" roads starting at 8 a.m. Friday. And the "traffic box" goes into effect Friday evening, meaning cars can leave that area but not enter.
Nutter said that the city will be making some exceptions that will allow taxis to move in and out of the traffic box until 2 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26. Nutter said further plans will be announced in the coming weeks.
Starting at 3 a.m. Monday, Sept. 27, Nutter said taxi stands will be put into effect so that people can catch early flights from Philadelphia Airport. Nutter said the city has yet to decide if ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft will also be permitted to operate.
During the road closures, businesses may still be able to get some deliveries but the trucks might not be able to get close to the loading docks, said Nutter.
There will also be the closure of Philadelphia courts and changes to the public school schedule, said Nutter.
- At 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24, the Secure Perimeter (red line on map) around Ben Franklin Parkway and Secure Vehicle Perimeter (black line on map) will go into effect.
- At 6 a.m. Friday, Sept. 25, the Secure Perimeter (red line on map) from 12th Street west until 20th Street will be open to screened pedestrians only, no vehicles allowed in the Secure Vehicle Perimeter (black line on map).
- At 8 a.m. Friday the Authorized Vehicle Access Roads (yellow line on map) will go into effect.
- At 6 p.m. Friday the Traffic Box in Center City (green line on map) will go into effect.
- At 10 p.m. Friday the Secure Perimeter (red line on map) around Independence Hall and Secure Vehicle Perimeter (black line on map) will go into effect. The Traffic Box in University City (green line on map) will also go into effect.
The times when the areas will reopen could depend on a variety of factors, said Nutter.