• Six Reasons Why The Pope’s Visit Will Be A Disaster For DC Residents

    The papal visit is already causing headaches for residents in the District of Columbia, and he won’t even be in town until next week.

    1. Major thoroughfares across the city will be closed for two days

    During the papal visit, almost all of the roads surrounding the White House and Capitol Hill will close to traffic. Roads around the Vatican embassy will also close during Pope Francis’s two-day visit, including Massachusetts Avenue, a main commuting road.

    Traffic delays of up to two hours are expected in some areas of the city.

    2. Federal workers are all being told not to come to work when the Pope is in town

    Traffic will be so bad, in fact, that federal workers are being told not to bother coming into work at all. Earlier this month, the Office of Personnel Management sent a memo to all federal agencies urging the agencies to allow telework, if possible.

    “Employees who can be spared from their duties may also request to adjust their work schedule and use their alternative work schedule day off or take annual leave,” the memo reads.

    Part of the reason federal employees are being told to stay home is to “minimize distraction to law enforcement and security officials,” according to the memo, who have problems of their own to deal with.

    3. The already short-handed fire department will be stretched thin

    D.C. Fire and EMS already struggles to handle the calls it gets during an average day, but with Pope Francis in town and all the accompanying traffic delays, it could lead to even poorer service.

    At a recent city council hearing, Interim FEMS Chief Edward Mills testified that of the 98 ambulances currently owned by the city, just 49 are in service and many of those are in a “state of disrepair.”

    Earlier this month, a 5-year-old boy with asthma had to be put on a fire truck and transported to a hospital after he stopped breathing because there were no available ambulances to help him. The boy died in the hospital.

    The fire department may have to lease more ambulances, or possibly use private ambulances to meet demand during the visit, FOX 5 reports.

    4. Public transportation will be a mess with tourists

    Using public transportation to get around while the pope is in town may sound like the better option, however, officials expect it to be just as backed up with tourists.

    The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is expecting “near inauguration ridership levels” during the visit, and is counting on regular commuters to adjust their work schedules or work from home to alleviate some of the congestion.

    “Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to attend events during the Papal visit, which will likely result in crowding and delays on trains and buses,” the agency wrote in a news release.

    Road closures will cause “extensive detours and service adjustments” for city buses, though the agency said it is trying to provide additional train service during the visit.

    5. It’s going to raise the terror threat level

    With the high-profile visit from the pope comes the greater risk of terrorists targeting the city, and security agencies will be tasked with protecting the long stretches of road shut down for the pope.

    Last month, the FBI arrested a 15-year-old boy in Philadelphia after he allegedly wanted to assassinate the pope in the name of Islamic State, ABS News reports.

    While law enforcement has seen no credible threats against the pope’s safety while he is in town, his visit was designated a “National Special Security Event,” according to CNN, that will see multiple local and federal law enforcement agencies coordinating.

    6. The Post Office removed 50 mail boxes ahead of the visit

    Some people are going to be hard-pressed to find a place to drop off mail. The U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday that it would remove 50 blue collection boxes from all over the city ahead of the pope’s arrival.

    Since some portions of the city will be cordoned off entirely by police, it would make it impossible for mail carriers to collect mail from the drop-off locations, the Postal Service said, so it is just going to remove the mail boxes until Friday, when the pope leaves.

    Most of the missing boxes are located in the downtown area of the city and near Capitol Hill, where the pope will spend the majority of his time.

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