Newspaper article Roll Call

Roads around Capitol to Close for Pope's Visit

Newspaper article Roll Call

Roads around Capitol to Close for Pope's Visit

Article excerpt

The U.S. Capitol Police has announced a series of street closures and security notices in anticipation of Pope Francis' visit to the nation's capital next week.

According to a Monday news release, closures include all streets within a three-block radius of the Capitol and will begin at midnight on Sept. 24 and end at noon, once Pope Francis has the left Capitol grounds after addressing a joint meeting of Congress. The closure area is bound by D Street to the north; Washington Avenue and D Street to the south; Third Street to the west; and Second Street to the east.

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Capitol Police emphasized there will be no public viewing areas to watch the pope's address on the Capitol grounds. Those gathering on the West Front, in the chamber or watching a telecast in a House and Senate office building will be required to show their tickets and submit to a security screening to enter the grounds. A number of items are prohibited from the grounds that day, including selfie sticks, umbrellas, strollers, bikes, thermoses, coolers, drones, weapons and explosives.

Congressional staffers will have the opportunity to watch Pope Francis arrive and depart the Capitol by standing on the grassy area on the East Front, according to internal notices obtained by CQ Roll Call.

Parking and access will be restricted around the Capitol grounds on the day of the speech, according to notices House Sergeant-at- Arms Paul D. Irving and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Frank J. Larkin sent to lawmakers in their respective chambers last week. Only those with congressional IDs and valid parking passes will be able to access lots and parking garages that morning, and there will be no parking on the East Front plaza.

Capitol Police say the Capitol building will be closed to the general public beginning at 5 p.m. on Sept. 22, and public and staff- led tours will be suspended until around 1 p.m. that Thursday.

In addition to restricted vehicular traffic around the Capitol, public transit will also be strained for the pope's congressional address. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority General Manager Jack Requa told reporters at a briefing Monday that the Metro lines leading to the Capitol, including Orange, Blue, Silver and Red, will be affected by the crowds descending on the Capitol, and Requa urged riders to spread out between nearby stops at Capitol South, Union Station, Judiciary Square and Federal Center. …

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