But drivers shouldn’t let the “apope-calyptic” traffic, as AAA Mid-Atlantic called it, get them down. There are a number of preparations that anyone can take when traveling through downtown and the Northwest and Northeast parts of the city.
“Travelers coming to papal events, as well as those who live and work in the surrounding areas, must plan, prepare and be patient during the papal visit,” John B. Townsend II, a spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic, told the The Washington Post. “This is not the time to ‘just wing it.’ It is a time to plan ahead and prepare accordingly, similar to planning ahead of a snow storm.”
Because of heightened security for Pope Francis, many streets will actually be closed off completely. Today and tomorrow, the traffic will likely be worst downtown and near the Vatican Embassy in D.C.
One issue, however, is that the Secret Service won’t say exactly how the pope will be transported around the city. They were mum on the route from Joint Base Andrews, where he arrived from Cuba, to his temporary home at the Vatican Embassy.
One option for those who need to change up their commutes would be to take a bus to work. Each full motorcoach, including charter buses, can take up to 55 automobiles off the highway to reduce traffic.
Others who insist on driving themselves will need to take precautions with regard to parking once they arrive at their destinations. Garage parking will likely be at a premium due to the number of guests, and street parking may be non-existent in some areas.
Last night, roads around the White House shut down in preparation for the popemobile parade, so travelers headed in that direction will want to pay attention to detours.
Also closed, according to the The Washington Post, will be a stretch of Constitution Avenue, so downtown and freeway congestion leading into Northern Virginia will be a likely side effect. D.C. traffic engineers told the paper that Interstate 66, the George Washington Parkway, and Interstate 395 could face backups as long as two hours.
Yet despite the potential traffic snafus across the city, D.C. is abuzz waiting to hear what Pope Francis has to say.
The 78-year-old pope will address Americans for the first time today, and he will later meet privately with President Barack Obama with only a translator present, according to CNN. Issues that many expect Pope Francis to cover in his talks include immigration, economic inequality, climate change, and the U.S. opening to Cuba, which the pope helped facilitate.