Deliveries, trash collection and what residents need to do with their cars were the chief subjects Mayor Michael Nutter addressed in today’s press conference updating plans for the 2015 World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia.
Because motor vehicles will largely be removed from the “Francis Festival Zone” (formerly known as the “traffic box”) Nutter described alternatives for Center City car owners who need to put their cars somewhere.
But first, a warning: Those who don’t move their cars out of the Francis Festival zone expeditiously will have them towed away. Towing will begin on Monday, September 20th, and end Wednesday, September 23rd, in order to allow time for the secure perimeter around the Francis Festival grounds to be built. Mayor Nutter urged residents to park their cars in any open parking space outside the festival zone; to assist those wishing to find free parking spaces, the 1,500-space lot at the former Naval Hospital at 1600 Pattison Avenue will be open for residents to use.
There will also be two paid options available to residents.
The cheaper option: The Philadelphia Parking Authority will sell prepaid parking spaces in its garages that festival zone residents can use beginning at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 24th through the end of the festival. The spaces, which will cost $10 for the weekend, will come with placards that holders can place in their windshields informing towing crews not to move their vehicles. The Parking Authority will have more details about purchasing the spaces on its website soon.
The more expensive option: Luxe Valet Parking will pick up residents’ cars, move them outside the festival zone, and store them while the secure perimeter is in effect (Thursday evening, September 24th through midnight Sunday, September 27th) for $20 per day. Information about the Luxe service is available now on the company website.
Nutter also addressed the number one question business owners within the zone had for city officials: Will I be able to get deliveries and trash collection? The answer to that question: Yes, during two specified windows — midnight to 4 a.m. Saturday the 26th and midnight to 4 a.m. Sunday the 27th — businesses within the Francis Festival zone but outside the ticketed area may have trash hauled and goods delivered in vehicles 28 feet or less in length without any prescreening; the smaller number of open businesses within the ticketed area will need to have delivery and trash pickup vehicles screened by the Secret Service prior to entering — or they may elect to meet them at the entry points to the zone.
Another new piece of the transportation puzzle announced at the news conference comes from the Indego bike-share system. Indego staff will be on hand at selected bike share stations within the Francis Festival zone to ensure bike availability and answer questions. The four staffed stations are at Rittenhouse Square (northwest corner, on Walnut near 19th), Foglietta Plaza (Front and Dock streets), 30th Street Station and Broad and Spring Garden streets. Fifteen other Indego stations will be closed for the duration of the festival; all others will be open on a self-serve basis round the clock. An article on the Indego blog has information about the closed stations; exact staffing hours have yet to be determined.
A Secret Service 3-D video shown at the conference gave a bird’s-eye view of the security setup for the ticketed zones. There will be multiple magnetometers at all entry points in order to allow as many people to be processed as quickly as possible, and the security fencing will consist primarily of bike racks so that views across the grounds will remain unobstructed.
Nutter also reiterated that there was no better way to reach the Francis Festival than by public transportation. With more stations open within the zone, he said, Francis Festival visitors will find they won’t have to walk far to reach the papal activities.
World Meeting of Families organizer Donna Farrell once again urged everyone in the region and beyond to come into the city for what she called “one of the most joyful, moving and incredible experiences you can be part of.” She also stressed that there were plenty of hotel rooms available and urged visitors to “stay the night.” The WMOF’s online Papal Visit Playbook is updated continuously as plans are revised and new information becomes available.
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For complete coverage of Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia, bookmark Philadelphia magazine’s Pope in Philly page.