Downtown Guidance During Pope Francis' Visit

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

By Sam Mullins

(Photo: Agência Brasil/Wikimedia Commons)

Traffic snarls, road closures and travel logistics were addressed last week at a briefing organized by the DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) concerning Pope Francis' visit to Washington, D.C. Sept. 22-24.

Downtown stakeholders, property managers and more listened to a presentation held at the Inter-American Development Bank's Enrique V. Iglesias Conference Center (1333 New York Ave), where Special Agent Mike Centrella of the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) and Commander Steven Sund of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) guided attendees through a PowerPoint presentation outlining the pope’s itinerary and how the region is preparing for the various planned events. 

[The DowntownDC BID has prepared this map of Downtown road closures related to the pope's visit.]

The pope’s time in D.C. has been classified as a National Special Security Event, meaning that the Secretary of Homeland Security has given the directive to bring together the Secret Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to work in coordination with local law enforcement while the pope is in Washington.

Centrella stressed that in addition to the pope’s events, other happenings will compound congestion in the region, especially on Sept. 23. At the Verizon Center (601 F Street NW), musician Ed Sheeran is holding concerts the evenings of both the Sept. 22 and 23. Additionally, the Washington Nationals baseball team will be hosting the Baltimore Orioles at Nationals Park all three nights during the pope's visit. These events will contribute to traffic and Metro crowding. Centrella said the public should be cognizant of the potential impact of these additional events.

Highlights of the pope's visit impacting Downtown and the BID area are as follows:

Tuesday: Low impact - arrival of Pope Francis at Joint Base Andrews Air Force Base.

Wednesday: High impact

• 9:00-11:00 am Pope Francis will be greeted by President Barack Obama at the White House.

13,500 people expected. Closed event.

• 11:00-11:30 am Parade

200,000 person crowd expected. Public event. Gates to secure area will open at 4 am. Motorcade after the parade to the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle (1725 Rhode Island Avenue NW). (This is the pope's only scheduled public event during his visit.)

• 4:15 pm. Canonization of the Blessed Junipero Serra. East portico of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the University Mall at The Catholic University of America.

30-40,000 guests. Closed event. Vice President Joe Biden will be in attendance.

Thursday: High impact

• 9:30-11:00 am Events at the U.S. Capitol. Speech to joint session of Congress. Telecast of congressional address on the National Mall. Possible appearance at the West Front of the Capitol.

50,000 ticketed spectators.

• 11:15 am – 3:00 pm. Blessing at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington (619 10th Street NW).

530 guests. Closed event.

The public is encouraged to take into account Metro crowding and changes to parking availability. Many street closures go into effect the night before the scheduled event. For a full list of street closures and coverage of the events, please refer to the following resources:


• DowntownDC BID website

• DowntownDC BID map

• DowntownDC BID Twitter

• MPD Twitter

• DDOT Twitter


Archdiocese of Washington