WASHINGTON - Millions of people are eagerly awaiting Pope Francis’ arrival in the U.S. later this month—and his first stop is right here in D.C. Massive crowds are expected to cheer on the Pope near the White House, the U.S. Capitol and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception near Catholic University. If you’re planning to be in or around downtown D.C. while he’s in town, you could be in for some delays.
Federal, local and transportation officials briefed the media Thursday on security and transportation plans for the Papal visit. Several roads will be closed to protect the Pope, and to keep traffic moving through downtown D.C., DDOT personnel will be dispatched to 70 intersections. That’s twice the number of workers that used at the city’s July 4th celebrations. Even D.C. Circulator buses will be rerouted from the National Mall to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for the Pope’s mass.
Metro expects hundreds of thousands of extra passengers to take trains and buses during the Pope’s visit, which is planned for September 22-24. That means those who ride those same trains or buses to work every day are being asked to work from home if they can, or to leave early and be prepared for likely delays.
Many of the road blocks planned in downtown D.C. will be temporary while the Pope is in town, but there’s one in particular that could really cause a mess. The northbound lanes of Massachusetts Avenue near the Pope’s residence just across the street from the Vice President’s home will be closed for all three days. The southbound lanes that pass the British Embassy are expected to stay open as long as the Pope is not moving in or out.
If you don’t have a ticket to see the Pope at one of the many events planned around the city during his visit, you’re not out of luck. Plans were made public on Thursday for a popemobile parade, which will carry Pope Francis around the White House Ellipse and along part of the National Mall after he visits President Obama at the White House on Wednesday, September 23. There will even be large screens in place near the Washington Monument to help visitors get a glimpse of the Pope as he makes his way to a midday prayer with the bishops of the United States at the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle.
Mayor Muriel Bowser said she will meet the Pope while he’s in the city, calling him “in so many ways a breath of fresh air.”
HERE'S THE POPE'S COMPLETE D.C. SCHEDULE:
Tuesday, September 22, 2015:
- Pope Francis will begin his pastoral visit to the United States with his arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in the afternoon.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015:
- Welcoming ceremony at the White House followed by a private meeting with President Obama.
- Parade around the White House Ellipse and along the National Mall
- Midday prayer with the bishops of the United States at the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle.
- Mass in the afternoon on the east portico of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the University Mall at The Catholic University of America. During the Mass, the pope will canonize Blessed Junipero Serra.
Thursday, September 24, 2015:
- Address joint meeting of the U.S. Congress in the morning.
- Visit St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in D.C. and meet with several clients of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington in late morning.
- Blessing and brief remarks to the clients gathered at lunchtime for the St. Maria Meals Program of the Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of Washington.
- Depart for New York City from Andrews Air Force Base.