New York City traffic guide for Pope Francis visit

During the pope’s visit, Manhattan drivers will face dozens of street closures on the Upper East Side and Upper West Side, in midtown and in TriBeCa.

Meanwhile, users of public transportation may also face changes to more than two dozen bus routes, though transit authorities say they may be adding additional commuter and subway trains.

Despite this, transportation experts say New York City will be able to handle the crowds for the pope’s visit far better than other cities on his trip with less mass transit, like Philadelphia. Many of the pope’s scheduled stops, at Madison Square Garden and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, for example, are also close to major subway hubs.

“New York is not Philadelphia or Washington,” said Mitchell Moss of the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation. “The vast majority of New Yorkers will function quite well. The subways are a great savior in this.”

He added that the city is also used to taking in massive crowds for events that range from political conventions to concerts. “The lesson here is that New York never stops, not even for the pope,” said Moss.


On Thursday, the pope’s visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for an evening prayer will affect about thirty nearby blocks, such as Fifth Avenue from 47th Street to 55th Street. Some streets around the cathedral will be closed at midnight and some at 3 a.m. They include 50th Street from Madison Avenue to Fifth Avenue, and 51st Street from Madison Avenue to Fifth Avenue. There will only be one crosstown lane of traffic.

The FDR Drive will also be closed on and off, southbound at the 63rd Street exit and northbound at the South Ferry exit. Many Upper East Side Streets near the Papal Nuncio’s Residence on East 72nd Street will also have closures. 71st and 72nd Street will be closed from Madison to Fifth Avenue from 8 a.m. Thursday to 10 a.m. Saturday.

Eight nearby blocks will have closures on and off, such as Fifth Avenue from 71st to 74th Street.

A slew of streets near the U.N. will shut down Tuesday evening at 10 p.m., including First Avenue from 42nd to 48th streets. Other nearby blocks between First and Second Avenue will be shut down as well, such as 44th, 45th, and 46th streets.

Many midtown streets will just have one traffic lane open for emergency vehicles for the General Assembly — 42nd Street from First Avenue to Fifth Avenue, 57th Street from Second Avenue to Fifth Avenue, and Second Avenue from 41st Street to 57th Street.

The pope will also visit the 9/11 Memorial & Museum late Friday morning. Liberty and Cedar Streets will be closed from Trinity Place to Greenwich Street from midnight to 1 p.m. that day. Northbound West Street will also be closed from Battery Place to Murray Street for 2 hours.

When the pope visits a Catholic school in East Harlem, one block will be affected on East 112th Street, as well as a nearby cul-de-sac from midnight to 6 p.m. on Friday.

The Upper West Side will have many street closures from midnight to 7 p.m. on Friday, including 18 blocks of Central Park West from Columbus Circle to West 81st Street.

Drivers should also avoid the streets near Madison Square Garden on Friday, which will be closed on and off beginning at noon.

On Saturday, there will still be some closures on the FDR drive. They will be southbound at 63rd Street, and northbound at South Ferry.


Commuters will get extra Metro-North and LIRR trains on Friday to handle the crowds on the rails.

Metro-North will run three extra trains in the morning on the Hudson, Harlem and New Haven lines between 10:37 and 11 a.m. on Friday. It will cancel and combine some trains to do this, and will release that information on the MTA website.

The LIRR will have eight additional trains to Penn Station on Friday between 12:19 p.m. and 1:40 p.m.

The MTA would not say how much extra subway service it will have while the pope is in town.

“Subway managers will be prepared to adjust train operations as necessary based on conditions in stations near those events,” it said in a statement.

Among the other changes:

Up to 25 bus routes are expected to be snarled near papal events in Manhattan, the MTA says. The pope’s visit and the U.N. General Assembly also may require the NYPD to close streets without notice, divert traffic and create “frozen zones. Express and local bus service will experience delays.

The MTA says are encouraging riders to take the subway instead, and commuters who rely on the Staten island Express Buses may want to consider using the ferry instead. Crowded conditions are expected throughout the system, especially in Manhattan.

The Port Authority said that PATH will have extra service from Journal Square and Hoboken to 33rd Street on Sept. 25, and that its bus terminals will be able to handle the traffic



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