Businesses react to road closures planned for papal visit

Katherine Scott Image
Thursday, August 6, 2015
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CENTER CITY (WPVI) -- Philadelphia business owners are reacting to word of the extensive road closures that will take effect when Pope Francis visits the city next month.

Many are wondering how they will cope with major restrictions for an entire weekend.

"We will have limited staff coming in, but we will be open," said Rob Passio of Giunta's Prime Shop.

Planning has long been underway for merchants at the Reading Terminal market, a site that's sure to be a popular attraction for visitors, but is also within the restricted traffic box.

"We're expecting same kind of flow as for the flower show, maybe double," said Denise Baldwin of Termini Brothers.

At Termini, cannoli and pastries are always plentiful, and you can be sure the business will be stocked up. But with no incoming deliveries allowed, logistics will be tricky for many businesses.

A 3-square mile traffic zone in Center City and West Philadelphia will ban cars from entering starting Friday evening.

25 miles of highway will be shut down, and the Ben Franklin Bridge will be closed. Reading Terminal has prepared for this.

"I understand the Reading Terminal Market has made provisions for us to have extra storage so we will be able to get all of our products in," Baldwin said.

But for some smaller entities the challenges that weekend are too big to overcome.

Street vendor Melvin Marrero on 19th and Vine Streets right near the Ben Franklin Parkway will shut down despite, and because of, the crowds of people expected in that area.

"My garage is on South Street," he told Action News. "Coming in and out is hard. If I run out of product, how do I get back to the garage? If I need to clean the tools, there's no way you can do it."

MORE: Major highway closures in Philly announced for pope visit