Mayor Michael Nutter announced widespread closures of streets during Pope Francis’ visit in September, distributing a map that showed a big area of Center City where cars — parked and otherwise — would be will be forbiddenand displaying a secure area that will be fenced off.
The new details comes as Nutter has faced increasing scrutiny over concerns that the administration is not sharing enough information with residents on how the city will cope with a crowd that is expected.
Last week, Nutterdisplayed maps that showed a “traffic box” that vehicles would not be allowed to enter, and also announced closures of major highways for the pope’s visit.
The new maps show higher security areas within the so-called traffic box. In one swath of Center City near the Parkway and Independence Mall where Pope Francis will appear, visitors will need to go through metal detectors to enter. In another, cars left on the street will be removed, the mayor warned.
Some of the restrictions will begin Thursday, Sept. 24, two days before Francis is scheduled to arrive.
Nutter also said that schools will be closed from Sept. 23 until Sunday, Sept. 27. Sept. 23 is Yom Kippur, and that day had previously been scheduled as a day off, and schools had announced that schools would close on the 27th previously. Nutter said the district will decide later whether to close on the 28thalso.
Nutter batted down questions from reporters who noted that the security planning may drive some people away from the city during that weekend.
“C’mon. this is a momentfor us to celebrating and to demonstrate alevel of civic prideabout an event that is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Nutter said.
Big questions still remain: how many taxis will be available to operate within the traffic box, will ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft be allowed to operate in the traffic box? How will employees — including bartenders, cooks and waiters get to their jobs?
Restaurants and other small businesses within secure zonesmay be able to recieve deliveries on the Saturday night — but they likely won’t be able to have them delivered to their usual loading docks. Instead they’ll have to use drop off points. Where those will be, Nutter said, has yet to be decided.
But he stressed that he was moving to provide as much information as possible, saying Thursday’s announcement provided answers to residents’ biggest questions.
“There are few mysteries at this point,” Nutter said.