How to Navigate the Traffic During the Pope’s Visit
When Pope Francis visits the region at the end of this month, it’s expected to cause a lot of traffic congestion and hazards for Garden State drivers.
Steve Schapiro, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Transportation says on Sept. 27, an open air mass is planned in Philadelphia, and the event could attract millions. He said traffic on major roads and Interstate highways near Philly may become clogged as a result.
“If you’re planning to travel then, the Garden State Parkway is probably going to be a better option because roads like 295 and the Turnpike are definitely going to see an added volume during the pope’s visit,” he said.
Schapiro said when the pope is in Philadelphia, much of Center City will be closed to traffic, and the Ben Franklin Bridge will be closed beginning Sept. 25 at 10 p.m. and will remain closed untill noon on Monday.
“That’s going to have a ripple effect on traffic, so there is likely to be heavy congestion on local roadways and state roadways,” Schapiro said.
He also says many of the people who will be attending the papal mass will be walking several miles, from areas in New Jersey into Philly, which means they’ll be walking back to their cars late Sunday night into Monday.
“Drivers need to be aware that there is the potential for a lot of pedestrians, so slow down, take a little time," he said. "We ask motorists not only be aware of the pedestrians but please obey the law enforcement officials who are managing the traffic in the intersections, don’t block intersections.
Shapiro also said with the pope in New York City on Sept. 25, NJ Transit will be adding more trains to help accommodate those with tickets to various events, but there may be more congestion at the Hudson River crossings and train stations are expected to be crowded, so everyone needs to budget extra time and be patient.
He also suggested travelers may want to consider leaving NYC via the PATH line, or by using ferries to get back to Jersey.
Schapiro said mass transit is a good idea and if you live in South Jersey, taking a train from Atlantic City is an option but you do need to buy tickets in advance. To do so you can go to the NJ Transit website.