With road closures and parking restrictions for the NFL Draft having kicked in last week, one thought among Fairmount and Spring Garden residents is that the closures seem worse than for the pope’s visit.

Is that really the case for the neighborhoods around the Parkway?

In terms of actual closures, the pope visit was definitely worse. Much of these neighborhoods fell under the secure vehicle perimeter, meaning Fairmount and Spring Garden residents, for the most part, couldn’t drive or even park for a few days in September 2015. When the full NFL Draft closures begin next week, the Parkway, Kelly and MLK Drive, parts of 20-22nd streets and part of Spring Garden Avenue will be closed. Many other streets will be open but only to local traffic. So Fairmount and Spring Garden residents will be able to park and drive to their homes.

When the Pope was here, nobody could park or drive within the black lines of the map on the left. On the right, for the NFL Draft, the bright red signifies closures and the dark red roads open to local traffic only. Credit: City of Philadelphia

But there is one way these Draft closures are worse. They’re lasting longer.

When the pope came to town in 2015, construction on the Eakins Oval-located stage did not begin until September 15th, 11 days before Francis’ visit. Construction began on the NFL Draft stage began on April 4, about three weeks before the Draft.

The first phase of road closures and parking restrictions began last Monday, two weeks before the Draft, shutting down portions of the Parkway, Kelly Drive, Eakins Oval and Spring Garden and banning parking on the south end of the 2400 block of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Wednesday, the second phase begins, shutting down the inner lanes of Benjamin Franklin Parkway. So by a full week before the draft, much of the Parkway will be shut down as well as other key roads around the Art Museum. The full closures and parking restrictions begin next Tuesday, two days before the Draft. The closures for the papal visit didn’t begin until the night of Sept. 24, about two days before the pope arrived. Parking restrictions began Sept. 20, six days before.

The full Draft closures last until May 1. The first phase of closures that we’re experiencing now last until May 7.

The latest in road closures

As mentioned above, the inner lanes of the Parkway will be closed down starting Wednesday. There are no new parking restrictions for this week. See our post from last week for a full outline of what’s to come in the days before the Draft.

Credit: City of Philadelphia

Verizon prepares for record date usage on the Parkway

Several complaints were lodged about cellular service during the 2015 Made In America concert, weeks before the pope visit. But by the time Francis got into town and tens of thousands of pilgrims showed up the complications were minimal.

Back then, Verizon spent about $24 million on upgrades and quadrupled its network capacity in downtown Philly. And for the NFL Draft, Verizon is saying it has further equipped the Parkway with technology to handle what it claims will be record date usage. Its focal point has been the installation of more Distributed Antenna Systems. They essentially act the same way as cell towers but are smaller and almost hidden.

SEPTA will have more trains

SEPTA is expecting an increase in passenger volume next week when the Draft is going on Thursday through Saturday. To prepare, SEPTA plans on having more trains available on Thursday and Friday nights after the festivities close and more cars on Regional Rail.

Mark Dent is a reporter/curator at BillyPenn. He previously worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where he covered the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Penn State football and the Penn State administration. His...