WASHINGTON - District officials have revealed new details about the traffic plan for Pope Francis’ visit to the nation’s capital.
It is a detailed plan, but you can boil it down to one message: leave your car at home. For three days, road closures are going to choke off traffic around the sites of Pope Francis’ visit.
Transportation and Metro planners told us if you aren’t already planning how you will travel during the pope’s visit, you need to start now.
"Taking a trip by car is going to lead to a delayed trip on your part," said District Department of Transportation director Leif Dormsjo.
On Monday, DDOT and Metro revealed a half dozen maps and service announcements all aimed at getting you to plan ahead if you are coming to Washington D.C. from Sept. 22 to Sept. 24.
"It's all hands on deck for the Metro Transit Police Department and we're working with our federal and local state partners as far as managing the crowd," said Metro Transit Police Chief Ronald Pavlik Jr.
You will see road closures wherever Pope Francis is. At the Vatican Embassy where he is staying, Massachusetts Avenue northbound will be closed for three days. At the White House, U.S. Capitol and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, there will also be closures.
How much more complicated is this visit than Pope Benedict's visit?
"My understanding is the previous visit, it was a much smaller event in terms of the geographic area, and the extent of the number of days and the work days and so forth,” said DDOT traffic engineer Raja Wasim.
He also told us this Papal visit will definitely be more complicated.
On Metro, rush hour service will run for two days with more rail cars and more capacity. But up to 70 Metrobus routes will be disrupted due to road closings. Metro is even giving special Pope Francis SmarTrip card holders.
"Please make sure you have your SmarTrip cards loaded in advance with enough fare for roundtrip travel for the number of days during the pope's visit," said Metro interim general manager Jack Requa.
The worst of impact is expected on Wednesday, Sept. 23 when delays could be an hour and 45 minutes on the George Washington Memorial Parkway and an hour delay on I-66. The bottom line? If you plan to see the pope, you need to plan your pilgrimage.
There are some other events going on while the pope is in town that week. The Nationals will be hosting the Orioles at Nationals Park for a three-game series and an Ed Sheeran concert is scheduled on Sept. 23 at Verizon Center.
But Metro said they are confident they will be able to handle the amount of people for these events.
Important links and information:
Click here for the full list of road closures and detours during the Papal visit
Maps of road closures and alternate routes:
Click here for information for riders using Metro during the Papal visit
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.
As a security precaution, the following items will be prohibited from entry into Papal events in Washington, DC:
Animals other than service/guide dogs
Backpacks exceeding size restrictions
Bags and signs exceeding size restrictions
Signs cannot be made of anything except cardboard, poster board or cloth
Hard Sided Coolers (soft side thermal coolers are allowed)
Drones and other unmanned aircraft systems
Glass, thermal, or metal containers
Supports for signs and placards
Weapons of any kind
Any other item determined to be a potential hazard
Surrendered items will not be returned, or available for pick-up.