Road closures for pope’s visit to create significant delays for commuters

WASHINGTON — The delays and closures surrounding the papal visit from Sept. 22 through 24 will be so significant that commuters should get in their cars only “as a last resort,” officials said.

The District Department of Transportation anticipates the biggest delays will come Wednesday morning in Virginia, because the road closures in town, including Constitution Avenue, will trigger backups across the Potomac River.

“On G.W. Parkway coming down south into the city, our models show for the worst-case conditions an hour and 45-minute delay,” says Wasim Raja, a traffic signal manager.

The delays on Interstate 66 could reach an hour and a half, he says.

For weeks, city leaders have been encouraging anyone who has the option to telework from home instead.

“Taking a trip by car is going to lead to a delayed trip on your part and make the commute of your neighbor even more challenging,” says Leif Dormsjo, director of DDOT. “It should be something that is done as a last resort.”

DDOT has released a series of alternate routes that drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists can use to avoid road closures that will be in effect in the areas that surround where the pope is expected to visit. For last-minute updates, check DDOT’s Pope-visit page.

Metro will operate at near-rush hour capacity on the Wednesday and Thursday of the papal visit. The trains also are expected to be packed for the Nationals-Orioles games and for the Ed Sheeran concert at Verizon Center Wednesday.

Metro plans to have ready 978 cars for the rail system, dozens more than are in use on a typical weekday.

“Have that SmarTrip card loaded for two or three days worth of funding so you don’t have to go to a fare machine,” says Jack Requa, Metro’s interim general manager.

Capital Bikeshare will set up three corrals to accommodate the events surrounding the papal visit.

Corrals offer Bikeshare riders unlimited space to park their rental bikes.

On Wednesday and Thursday mornings, a corral will be set up at 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW from 7 a.m. until noon.

Another corral will be set up at 10th and Monroe streets NE from noon until 6 p.m.

Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Wednesday and he will address Congress on Thursday. He is also expected to visit New York City and Philadelphia during his trip to the United States.

Click on these links to see detailed maps of road closures, detours and alternate routes:

Vatican Embassy 

Click on the map to see a larger version.
Click on the map to see a larger version.

 

White House 

Click on this map to see a larger version plus additional details about road closures and detours in the area.
Click on this map to see a larger version plus additional details about road closures and detours in the area.

 

Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle

Click on this map to see a larger version plus additional details about road closures and detours in the area.
Click on this map to see a larger version plus additional details about road closures and detours in the area.

 

U.S. Capitol 

Click on this map to see a larger version plus additional details about road closures and detours in the area.
Click on this map to see a larger version plus additional details about road closures and detours in the area.

 

St. Patrick’s 

Click on this map to see a larger version plus additional details about road closures and detours in the area.
Click on this map to see a larger version plus additional details about road closures and detours in the area.

 

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception 

Click on this map to see a larger version plus additional details about road closures and detours in the area.
Click on this map to see a larger version plus additional details about road closures and detours in the area.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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