Getting Ready For the Pope’s Visit to Philadelphia, On The South Jersey Side
Pope Francis will be visiting Philadelphia next month and experts on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River continue to prepare.
The Pope's visit is expected to draw an estimated 1.5 million people to his mass on the Ben Franklin Parkway and experts say at least half of the people in the crowd could be elderly, which is raising several concerns.
A couple weeks ago, it was announced that several major highways in Philadelphia would be closed for a few days, including portions of the Schuylkill Expressway and Interstate 676 through the city. PennDOT and NJDOT officials will also be closing the Ben Franklin Bridge to cars from the night of September 25th through noon on September 28th. In Camden, I-676 and Admiral Wilson Boulevard will also be shut down.
Besides portions of those two roads, the NJDOT says all other roads in South Jersey will remain open but people should anticipate extremely heavy traffic the closer you get to Philadelphia. The New Jersey Turnpike and I-295 will remain open during the Pope's visit, but ramps to Camden or Philadelphia may be shut-down if traffic excessively backs-up in those areas.
As for the hundreds of thousands of elderly people that are expected to attend the Mass on the Ben Franklin Parkway, planners are concerned that they will be joining the other hundreds of thousands of people that will be walking several miles to attend the festivities. According to an article in philly.com, if you are planning to park in Camden to get to the Parkway, prepare to walk about 4 1/2 miles, which includes hiking over the Ben Franklin Bridge, which has a very steep incline (you probably don't realize it when you're driving over the bridge).
Experts are urging everyone to bring extra cell phone batteries and lots of patience as the city of Philadelphia doubles its population during the Pope's visit.