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Pope Francis' visit to Philadelphia has students across University City anticipating his arrival. He is scheduled to arrive September 26th. | Courtesy of Creative Commons

Though students are excited to have a day off for the pope’s visit on Sept. 25, the city shutdown will cause some inconveniences throughout the weekend. The Daily Pennsylvanian sat down with Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush to find out what you need to know to stay safe during the pope’s visit.

What roads will be closed to vehicles and/or pedestrians over the weekend?

34th Street from Spring Garden all the way down until University Avenue will be a no-drive zone emergency route, and will encompass 30th Street Station up to 38th Street. The South Street Bridge will also be used as an emergency route. 38th Street itself will be open North and South. Sidewalks will be open for pedestrians as well as the South Street Bridge.

How long are these closures going to last and when are they starting?

Road closures begin Friday at 10 p.m. and will continue until the early morning on Monday. “We are cautiously optimistic that we will have our no-drive zone box opened up overnight so that Monday morning passage for all campus will be open,” Rush said.

If the Pope is going to be in Center City, why are roads closed up until 38th Street?

“University City is affected in the event of an emergency,” Rush said. The issue for University City is the close proximity of the three hospitals — the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.

What if I need to go to the hospital?

The Division of Public Safety wants to ensure that all who need to access those hospitals are able to do so and have a quick, safe passage to get there. The Penn Presbyterian will be the primary designated trauma center in the event of an emergency. The main command center for University City public safety information, the Emergency Operations Center, will be housed at the DPS headquarters. There will be command posts at each hospital that will be in contact with the EOC. There will be another EOC in Center City that the DPS will be in contact with as well.

Will I be able to work out?

Yes, Pottruck Health and Fitness Center will be open, and it will be the only gym open on campus. All memberships to other gyms, such as to the Fox Fitness Center and the Weiss Pavilion, will be honored at Pottruck.

Where can I study?

The Van Pelt Dietrich Library and the Goldstein Undergraduate Study Center (also known as the Van Pelt Basement) will have hours over the weekend. On Friday, only the Undergraduate Study Center will be open, and Van Pelt will reopen Saturday and Sunday.

Where can I eat?

DPS has met with retail hospitality groups, restaurants and retail stores to make sure that they have the ability to stock up their inventories. Residential dining facilities will offer brunch and dinner Friday to Sunday, while retail dining cafes will have reduced hours.

Who is still going to be working on campus?

Normal operating hours for the University will be suspended the Friday that the pope arrives, but all essential personnel will remain on campus. The University is providing accommodations for all necessary personal who need to be able to access campus. “Many public safety personnel, including police as well as other essential personnel, will be staying on campus throughout the weekend. This is not mandated, but we don’t want to have someone who can’t get through to report to their shift,” Rush said.

Will everyone be safe?

DPS is working with all arms of the University and the Philadelphia Police Department to ensure the safety of everyone on and off campus. There will also be over 500 members of the National Guard in the city to provide support throughout the city and University City area. “This is with an abundance of caution to make sure that not only the pope but also all people here receive care,” Rush said.

What can I do to make things easier for the Penn Police?

“This is going to be an extremely busy weekend for the hospitals,” Rush said. “We ask all of our student to conduct themselves with great abundance of caution and in a way that doesn’t create danger for themselves or create more havoc at the hospitals.”

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