You may have heard that Pope Francis will be visiting Philadelphia toward the end of September. He will not be in town long, but he will make a few stops in Center City and say Mass for a crowd that some say could top 2 million.
Moving both visitors and residents around while providing adequate security for the pope is a major concern. In fact, city officials have been working on traffic and transit plans since the Vatican confirmed the Pope’s itinerary last November.
Last week, PhillyVoice.com published a map that shows the various traffic restrictions as well as the location of the security fences the city is planning to erect. By now, people are beginning to catch on that getting to Center City by car, taxi, bus, train, boat, glider, skateboard or hovercraft is pretty much out of the question. Wear comfortable shoes, because you will be walking a lot.
All of this, of course, is causing problems for businesses within the outermost security perimeter — that is, traffic box. As one proprietor put it, the pope will bring a million or more potential customers into town, but getting the place staffed to serve them will be a challenge; his workers rely on public transportation.
Developers and general contractors are in a quandary, as well. Shutting down a construction site could cost both time and money, but, again, moving workers and materials to and from the sites could be difficult. The General Building Contractors Association of Philadelphia told the Philadelphia Business Journal this week that its members will likely have to deal with traffic issues from Thursday, Sept. 24, to Monday, Sept. 28.
Speaking of costs: The next few weeks will probably see some anxious negotiations between contractors and unions. Remember, some union workers contract for 40-hour work weeks. If the site closes down, will the union require payment for the lost time? Is it possible to cram 40 hours into three or four days instead?
A representative from Liberty Property Trust, the developer of the Comcast Innovation & Technology Center, was not worried. There is plenty of time to figure out a plan, she told the Business Journal, and if they have to shut down, “It’s the price of doing business in a metropolitan area.”
In other words: Events happen.
Source: Philadelphia Business Journal, “Will construction projects come to a grinding halt when pope comes?” Natalie Kostelni, Aug. 21, 2015