Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

How to navigate pope visit

The ins and outs of getting around Philly this week.

Police and Parking Authority trucks tow cars from Pennsylvania Avenue near 25th Street in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia. (For the Inquirer and Daily News/ Joseph Kaczmarek)
Police and Parking Authority trucks tow cars from Pennsylvania Avenue near 25th Street in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia. (For the Inquirer and Daily News/ Joseph Kaczmarek)Read more

THE PAPAL WEEK is upon us, dear Philadelphians. The Francis Festival Grounds are being built, tourists are flooding the streets and every store window seems to feature Pope Francis products.

After months of worry and excitement, it's now time for the World Meeting of Families and the papal weekend to run their course.

Here's what you need to know in order to navigate that course - and the streets of our city - this week.


* 6 p.m. yesterday - Towing began in areas along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, from the art museum east to 12th Street.

* 9 a.m. today - Towing begins in areas north and south of the parkway.

* 6 p.m. tomorrow - Towing begins from 12th Street east to 3rd Street.

* 9 a.m. Wednesday - Towing begins on streets designated as emergency routes throughout Center City.

* Wednesday to Friday, Sept. 25 - School District of Philadelphia closed. If schools need to close on Monday, Sept. 28, notice will be given in the same way as it would in the event of a snowstorm.

* Wednesday - Philadelphia courts close and will reopen Tuesday, Sept. 29.

* Thursday - Nonessential city offices close and will reopen Tuesday, Sept. 29.

* 10 p.m. Thursday - The secure perimeter and the secure vehicle perimeter are set up from the art museum east to 12th Street. Cars will not be allowed to travel or park within these perimeters. Those residents who obtained a permit from the Philadelphia Parking Authority for a paid space during the papal visit must move their cars to a garage by this point.

* Friday and Monday - No residential trash collection.

* 6 a.m. Friday - Metal detectors open along certain areas of the parkway. People will be able to enter the secure perimeter from 20th Street east to 12th Street after being screened.

* 8 a.m. Friday - Emergency routes take effect. Cars will not be allowed on emergency routes.

* 6 p.m. Friday - The Francis Festival Grounds, formerly known as the traffic box, goes into effect around Center City. From this point until Monday, cars will be able to exit the grounds, but will not be able to re-enter. The grounds extend from the Schuylkill River to the Delaware River and from Girard Avenue, Ridge Avenue and Spring Garden Street in the north to South Street in the south.

* 10 p.m. Friday - The Francis Festival Grounds: University City edition goes into effect. The grounds in University City are bordered by Powelton Avenue, 34th Street, University Avenue and the Schuylkill River. If you drive out of the grounds, you will not be able to re-enter.

* 10 p.m. Friday - The secure perimeter and secure vehicle perimeter for Independence Mall take effect from 12th Street east to 3rd Street in Center City. Cars will not be allowed to travel within the perimeters.

* 10 p.m. Friday - Interstate 76 East from I-476 to I-95 (Walt Whitman Bridge) will be closed. I-76 West from I-95 (Walt Whitman Bridge) to US Route 1 will be closed. I-676 for its entire length in both directions for from I-76 to I-95 (the Benjamin Franklin Bridge) will be closed. Route 1 will be closed in both directions from Route 30 to Belmont Avenue. I-95 will remain open but the ramps between Broad Street and I-676 will be closed.

* 10 p.m. Friday - The Benjamin Franklin Bridge closes to vehicular traffic.

* 10 p.m. Friday - The PPA will begin only enforcing safety violations such as double parking and parking too close to a crosswalk. Time limits at meters and kiosks will not be enforced throughout the papal weekend. Normal enforcement will resume on Monday, Sept. 28.

* 2 a.m. Saturday - Taxis will no longer be able to enter and leave the Francis Festival Grounds.

* 6 a.m. Saturday - Metal detectors open at all secure perimeters, including Independence Mall and the parkway.

* 9:30 a.m. Saturday - Pope Francis arrives at Atlantic Aviation.

* 10:30 a.m. Saturday - Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul.

* 4:45 p.m. Saturday - Pope Francis gives a speech on immigration and religious liberty at Independence Mall.

* 7:30 p.m. Saturday - Pope Francis participates in the Festival of Families on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Actor Mark Wahlberg hosts the event.

* Saturday - No mail delivery in zip codes 19102, 19103, 19104, 19106, 19107, 19122, 19123 and 19130.

* 6 p.m. Saturday - The secure perimeter at Independence Mall ends but the secure vehicle perimeter remains in place. Visitors entering the grounds will no longer have to go through metal detectors.

* 6 a.m. Sunday - Secure perimeters open for screenings for the papal Mass on the parkway. One of the secure areas will require tickets, while the other is first come, first served.

* 9:15 a.m. Sunday- Pope Francis meets with bishops at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood.

* 11 a.m. Sunday - Pope Francis visits Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Northeast Philadelphia.

* 4 p.m. Sunday - Pope Francis celebrates a public mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

* 8 p.m. Sunday - Pope Francis departs Atlantic Aviation in Philadelphia to head back to Rome.

* 3 a.m. Monday - Stands for cabs within the Francis Festival Grounds go up, mainly to accommodate out-of-towners needing transportation to the airport.


On Friday, Sept. 25, SEPTA's regional rail lines will operate on a Saturday schedule.

During the weekend, SEPTA will run an express service to 30th Street Station and Jefferson Station from 18 outlying stations. All other stations will be closed.

Only customers traveling with a special one-day regional rail pass for the papal visit will be allowed on board.

Service will begin at 5:30 a.m. and continue until noon. Bicycles will not be permitted on the trains.

In the afternoon, return service will begin at 5:30 p.m. with the last scheduled trains leaving at 12:30 a.m.

Travelers will board the train home at the same station where they arrived in the morning.

SEPTA recently doubled the number of Broad Street Line and Market-Frankford Line stations that will be open this weekend. Those open include 8th Street and 34th Street on the Market-Frankford Line, the agency said.

For more information, check here:

SEPTA expects to resume a normal schedule Monday morning, but there may be some delays or adjustments, the agency said.

Residential parking

Residents who live within the Francis Festival Grounds may park for free at the former Naval Hospital lot on Pattison Avenue near Broad Street, which accommodates about 1,500 cars.

For $20, residents within the grounds who can provide a valid driver's license, vehicle registration, and utility bill or another document showing that car owner's address is within the towing area, can park in one of six PPA lots throughout the city beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24. If the resident has a current residential parking permit, the fee will be waived.

Residents who obtain a spot through the PPA will be issued a placard which prevents their vehicle from being towed until 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24. Cars that are in the PPA parking garages will not be able to leave those garages until Monday, Sept. 28.

Those interested in obtaining spots at PPA garages and the accompanying placard are urged to visit the PPA's customer service office on 8th Street near Filbert or call 215-222-9100.

Finally, residents within the towing zones who already have a residential parking permit for District 1 (Rittenhouse Square), District 4 (Washington Square West), District 5 (Society Hill), District 6 (Logan Square) and District 10 (Chinatown) may park in any other residential parking permit block from Sunday, Sept. 20, until Tuesday, Sept. 29.

Towing information

If your vehicle is towed as a result of the papal festivities, you will be fined $76 and will be required to pay a $175 towing and storage fee. Those who believe their vehicles have been towed are urged to call the PPA at 1-888-591-3636.

People with disabilities

Taxicabs that are wheelchair accessible and SEPTA CCT vehicles will operate within the Francis Festival Grounds to assist people with disabilities.


Items that are prohibited within the secure perimeter zones:

* Aerosols

* Ammunition

* Animals, except for service animals

* Backpacks and bags exceeding 18 inches by 13 inches by 7 inches

* Balloons

* Bicycles

* Drones

* Explosives, firearms or weapons

* Glass, thermal or metal containers

* Hard-sided coolers (soft-sided thermal coolers are allowed)

* Laser pointers

* Mace or pepper spray

* Packages

* Selfie sticks

* Signs exceeding 5 feet by 3 feet by 1/4 inch made of any material except cardboard, poster board or cloth

* Structures

* Supports for signs and placards

* Toy guns

- Staff writer Joe Brandt

contributed to this report.

On Twitter: @FarFarrAway