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September 09, 2015

Delaware County announces papal visit safety plan

Traffic closures and logistical concerns addressed in briefing

Papal Visit Safety
090915_Delcopapalvisit Contributed Art/Delaware County Council

Working under the leadership of the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), six committees met for months at the 911 Center in Delaware County to address concerns about public safety, traffic congestion, parking problems and public transit.

With more than 1.5 million people expected to flock to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families 2015 and papal visit, surrounding counties are proactively anticipating disruptions that could impact local municipalities.

On Wednesday, Delaware County announced the details of a plan to address issues related to traffic, crowd control and other logistical questions on the weekend of September 26-27. The plan outlines the county's provisions for first-aid stations, porta-potties, drinking water, traffic cones, lighting and message boards, emergency response, National Guard backup, road closures, communications and countless other contingencies.

“This is a major world event that will shine a spotlight on our region,” said Delaware County Council Chairman Mario J. Civera Jr., who is also a member of the Government Outreach Committee for the World Meeting of Families. “It is also a National Special Security Event (NSSE), which means the United States Secret Service is involved along with our state and local law enforcement.”

To develop the plan, County Council and the Department of Emergency Services worked with municipal leaders, emergency responders, members of law enforcement, SEPTA and PennDOT representatives, hospital officials, the Pennsylvania National Guard, and citizen volunteer corps members.

“There are three main missions to our plan," Civera said. "One, to ensure a safe, secure environment for people going to the event. Two, to mitigate the impact of the event on our communities. Three, to provide support to the established transportation services that will be utilized.”

Civera detailed the following bullets to guide residents toward resources with more information about the plan.

• The county will activate its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Friday morning, Sept. 25, and keep it open through Monday, Sept. 28. There will be increased staffing at the 911 Center and there will be direct communication with the Pennsylvania State Police, SEPTA, PennDOT, the National Guard, local law enforcement and other agencies.

• Delaware County has requested the assistance of 280 Pennsylvania National Guard personnel for traffic and crowd control.

• The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) will conduct training this week for members of the volunteer corps registered to help where needed.

• Maps from the municipalities that plan road closures near their transit stops will be posted on the county website. (These are tentative as SEPTA continues to adjust is plans.) Transit stops in Aldan, Collingdale, Darby Township, Marcus Hook, Springfield, Radnor/Villanova, Upper Darby, Upper Providence and Yeadon could be affected.

• Residents are urged to sign up for DelcoAlert on the county’s website at to receive texts or emails of emergencies.

• The county will communicate through various sources, including DelcoAlert (the county’s emergency notification system), the county website, Facebook and Twitter to ensure residents are aware of any situations that might arise.

• Residents can visit the website and sign up for news alerts through the Papal Playbook.

For a full list of Delaware County resources on the papal visit, click here

“When we have the opportunity to welcome a world leader to our region, it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I know many people, Catholics and non-Catholics, who are interested in seeing and hearing from Pope Francis,” Civera said. “I feel confident that our county and region will rise to the occasion and the overall benefits will outweigh the inconveniences.”