PennDOT: Avoid papal travel pitfalls

PennDOT wants to remind residents that weekend-long travel restrictions will start later this week on the Schuylkill Expressway (I-76), I-676, and City Avenue in preparation for the historic visit of Pope Francis to Philadelphia.

“The combination of the street closures in Philadelphia, the anticipated large crowds, and the need for law enforcement and first responders to move swiftly within the city necessitated the restrictions that will be in place during this momentous event,” said PennDOT District Executive Kenneth M. McClain.

To assist those traveling to Philadelphia for the papal visit, PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission launched a detailed travelers’ website –  The website provides real-time traffic information; details on how to reach the papal venues, and how to take diversion routes around the region; color-coded maps showing how traffic is flowing; and other valuable event information. The site is accessible from both desktop and mobile devices.

In addition, PennDOT and neighboring Mid-Atlantic States have deployed a cohesive, long-distance travel advisory and diversion plan utilizing 335 electronic Highway Message Signs to inform Philadelphia-bound travelers of locations of highway closures and provide alternative routes for “through traffic” interested in avoiding the Philadelphia area.

In coordination with the Pennsylvania State Police and local jurisdictions, the following exit ramps along I-676 in Philadelphia will close Thursday, Sept. 24, at 10 p.m., until Monday morning, Sept. 28: the east exit at 23rd Street/Benjamin Franklin Parkway; east exit at Broad Street (Route 611); east exit at 8th Street; west exit at Broad Street; and west exit at Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The following highway and ramp closures will begin Friday, Sept. 25, at 10 p.m., until Monday morning, Sept. 28: I-76 east from I-476 in Montgomery County to I-95 in Philadelphia; I-76 west from I-95 to U.S. 1 (Roosevelt Expressway) in Philadelphia; I-676 in both directions between I-76 and I-95 in Philadelphia; I-95 north and south exit ramps to Callowhill Street in Philadelphia; I-95 north and south exit ramps to I-676 in Philadelphia; I-95 north and south exit ramps to Washington Avenue (open to registered buses only) in Philadelphia; I-95 north and south exit ramps to Broad Street (open to registered buses only) in Philadelphia.

The following road closures will start Saturday, Sept. 26, at 10 a.m. and continue until 10 p.m., and then resume Sunday, Sept. 27, at 7 a.m. until late Sunday afternoon: City Avenue in both directions between Route 30 and Belmont Avenue in Philadelphia and Lower Merion Township.

I-95 will remain open to traffic with only selected ramps closed due to street closures within Philadelphia and other security needs.

Motorists are advised to expect slowdowns and possible travel restrictions near SEPTA regional rail stations and transportation centers that are in operation this coming Saturday and Sunday.

Throughout the weekend of the papal visit, the best option for citizens trying to reach the papal venues in Philadelphia is to travel by public transportation; however, if traveling by personal vehicle, drivers are advised to pre-plan the trip, choosing a location for parking outside the Francis Festival Grounds; visit or call 511 for traffic information; and allow additional travel time for travel, making sure the vehicle has adequate fuel and water.

For more PennDOT information, visit Follow local PennDOT information on Twitter at




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