People who want to see Pope Francis in Philadelphia next month had better bring their walking shoes.
Transportation officials in New Jersey laid out plans to accommodate what's expected to be several hundred thousand people passing through on the way to Philadelphia on Sept. 26 and 27.
Many will be funneled through Camden, where buses will park. Attendees will be required to walk several miles from Camden over the Ben Franklin Bridge and to the site of Sunday's Mass on Ben Franklin Parkway.
Officials said Thursday that anyone not ready to walk a significant distance should consider staying home.
They also said New Jersey residents and motorists passing through who aren't headed to Philadelphia should stay at least 50 miles away to avoid traffic jams.
Here are more details from the New Jersey Department of Transportation:
The Ben Franklin Bridge between Camden and Philadelphia will be closed at 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25 through noon Monday, Sept. 28. Because of the bridge closure, NJDOT will be closing I-676 westbound from Exit 3 to the Bridge, as well as Route 30 westbound from Airport Circle (Route 38/Route 130) to the Bridge.
These closures will result in congestion and delays on all of the state highways in the region, particularly in Camden, Burlington, and Gloucester counties, as well as the interstate highways and toll roads.
The following NJDOT roadways are expected to be affected by the increased traffic: I-295, as well as Routes 38, 42, 45, 47, 55, 70, 73, 90, 130, 168, and 322.
It is likely that there will also be congestion and delays to I-95, I-195 and US 1, and we also are anticipating that the New Jersey Turnpike and the Atlantic City Expressway will experience much heavier volume.
For motorists looking to cross into Philadelphia to celebrate Mass with Pope Francis, the NJDOT and New Jersey’s other transportation agencies will utilize detour and electronic message signs to divert traffic onto northbound and southbound US Route 130 to access other crossings into Philly.
There is no dedicated parking for private vehicles in Camden – there will only be parking available for registered buses.
On Thursday, Sept. and Friday, Sept. 25, NJ TRANSIT will provide service for the regular commute with additional capacity offered via rail and bus into and out of New York City.
On Saturday, Sept. 26 and Sunday, Sept. 27, special tickets will be needed to travel on both the Atlantic City Rail Line and the RiverLINE light rail service. There are a limited number of tickets available for both of these days, and they go on sale at www.njtransit.com beginning Saturday, Aug. 15 at noon.
Tickets will also be available from certain ticket vending machines or from a ticket agent. These are advance purchase tickets only --- no tickets will be available for purchase on the day of the event.
Atlantic City Rail Line
On Saturday, Sept. 26 and Sunday, Sept. 27, the Atlantic City Rail Line will be express only between Atlantic City and Philadelphia. Trains will depart Atlantic City beginning at 6 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday and will operate approximately hourly for most of the day. Round trip tickets will be $30.
Trains will depart Philadelphia for Atlantic City on a “load and go” basis following the event.
Limited bus service will run along the Atlantic City Rail Line corridor on Saturday and Sunday in order to serve our regular ACRL customers who utilize stations in between Atlantic City and Philadelphia.
The bus service will follow the ACRL schedule as closely as possible, but customers should note that bus service tends to move slower given the general flow of traffic on local streets.
The RiverLINE will operate on a 15-minute schedule on Saturday and Sunday in both directions between Trenton and Walter Rand Transportation Center in Camden with no service in downtown Camden between WRTC and the Entertainment Center.
Once events in Philadelphia are underway, the RiverLINE will shift to a 30 minute schedule.
Special tickets are needed for the RiverLINE as well and must be purchased in advance. The cost of the ticket is $5 and will be sold in 2-hour increments (for example, 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. which means the ticket must be used during that time period.
Stops along the RiverLINE will be limited to Trenton, Bordentown, Florence, Burlington South, Pennsauken Route 73, Pennsauken Transit Center and WRTC. Bus Service will stop at those light rail stations not being serviced by the RiverLINE that weekend.
Bus service will not operate at the Beverly and Delanco light rail stations.
Regularly scheduled weekend service will operate on all other heavy rail lines (plus Stadium service for NFL football on Sunday).
On Thursday and Friday, buses will run regularly- scheduled weekday service on routes in the Philadelphia/Camden area. Once the Ben Franklin Bridge closes to vehicular traffic, all Philadelphia bus routes will be truncated at the Walter Rand Transportation Center in Camden but will remain on schedule for trips outbound from the Camden area.
Bus service will be enhanced on the majority of bus routes throughout the weekend particularly in South and North Jersey. Customers boarding at Walter Rand Transportation Center will be subject to a special queuing operation in order to facilitate the safe and orderly boarding of passengers following events in Philadelphia.
Access Link, NJ TRANSIT’s ADA-paratransit service, to and from Philadelphia will be suspended on Friday, Sept. 25 following the closure of the Ben Franklin Bridge, through Monday, Sept. 28, and will resume regular reservation service on Tuesday, Sept. 29. On Saturday, Sept. 26, and Sunday, Sept. 27, all service in and out of Camden County will be suspended.
For more transportation-related information related to the Papal visit, go to http://www.state.nj.us/transportation/commuter/events/papal.shtm.