by Pete Mazzaccaro
This week begins what may be the most expensive and extensive visit of a foreign dignitary to the City of Philadelphia in history. That dignitary is Pope Francis, whose presence during the World Meeting of Families will effectively shut down Center City for the entire weekend, starting on Thursday at 10 p.m.
While Chestnut Hill will largely not be affected by the visit of Pope Francis this weekend, the neighborhood will be home to one of the few points of entry to the city. So if you park on the street, you’re going to want to find a good spot now and leave your car there for the next week.
Chestnut Hill West Station on West Evergreen Avenue will be the only station open on either of the two rail lines that serve Northwest Philadelphia. Chestnut Hill East will be closed.
Although the station will be open, the station’s parking lot will be closed. The lot will be filled with SEPTA and city employees who will have information, doughnuts and coffee for those traveling to the city. A row of portable toilets will also take up a large area of the lot.
According to SEPTA, trains will leave from the station every half hour, beginning at 5:30 a.m. The transit agency also urges people looking to travel to the city to be dropped off at the station in anticipation of what will be a very difficult parking situation.
The Chestnut Hill Parking Foundation will be offering day passes to those who want to park in its lots at $40 a day. Space will be limited though, as the foundation wants to be sure to keep spaces open not only for shoppers but for monthly parking pass holders.
“Chestnut Hill is going to be open for business,” said Peggy Miller, deputy director of the Chestnut Hill Business Association. “We were told to plan like it’s going to be a snowstorm without the snow. We hope we’ll be an oasis for people who want to shop or go to a restaurant here in the neighborhood.”
For more information about the pope’s visit to Philadelphia, go to www.phila.gov/InformationCenters/pope/Pages/default.aspx.