NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Pope Francis’ New York City visit was still days away late Monday, but the signs of what’s to come were posted all over the Upper West Side.

As CBS2’s Jessica Schneider reported, streets off Central Park were already cleared late Monday, with blue barricades in their place, All cars on east-west crosstown streets between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue were ordered to be moved by 1 a.m. Tuesday.

The order affected crosstown streets from the 60s to the 80s.

Similar restrictions were in place all over Manhattan, and they have left people a bit uncertain as to what the end of the week will bring.

EXTRA: Guide To Pope Francis’ Visit To NYC

“It’s really going to be tight security, and people should prepare for that now,” said City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal (D-6th).

Rosenthal was warning residents throughout Manhattan that the side streets were being locked down in preparation for the pope’s arrival.

“If you’re in a cab or a car or a bus, there will be disruptions, but they’ll be in identifiable areas,” said Mitch Moss, director of the Rubin Center for Transportation at NYU.

Moss has just completed a two-week study of the effects of the wide-ranging shutdowns around Manhattan. And they don’t end with the streets near Central Park.

Starting Thursday, the streets surrounding St. Patrick’s Cathedral at Fifth Avenue and East 50th Street will close to traffic, as will the streets surrounding the papal residence at 72nd Street and Madison Avenue where Pope Francis will stay.

There will also be intermittent closures of the FDR Drive.

But on Friday, a wider swath of the city will close as the pope travels throughout Manhattan – first to the UN, then to the World Trade Center site, up to Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem, through the west side of Central Park for a papal motorcade, and then down to Madison Square Garden for an evening mass.

But Moss said for the most part, his study showed the city should be able to keep functioning.

“Citizens of New York have been given a great gift. They’ve been told where to avoid,” he said. “Once they’ve been told that, they can stay out of the cabs, out of their cars, and of course, the subway will get them just the same place — just not on the surface.”

Alen MacWeeney of the Upper East Side said he would just avoid going around the city.

“I’ll stay put. I’m not worried,” MacWeeney said. “It’s kind of nice that he’s coming — very nice that he’s coming. He’s loved by the world.”

But many who live on the Upper West Side said they are not looking forward to the hassle.

“I don’t think anyone of any importance should ever be allowed in New York City, including presidents, heads of states, anybody, because New Yorkers get very impatient — me included,” one woman said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio admitted Monday that the pope’s visit will create inconveniences and traffic delays. In Midtown, for example, steel police barricades will be lined up for blocks, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.

The mayor, however, believes it’s worth the inconvenience.

“It’s going to be a joyous week,” he said. “It’s going to be an exciting week. It’s going to be an inspiring week.”

“It’s going to be hectic,” one driver told 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern. “It’s going to be crazy.”

Officials are urging everyone to take advantage of mass transit whenever possible during the pope’s visit. Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Adam Lisberg said the subways are ready.

“We routinely, at the conclusion of a Yankee game, have tens of thousands of people leaving Yankee Stadium,” he said. “The subway system can handle a lot of people getting onto the trains at the same time.”

But he said buses may be a problem because of street closures.

Citywide police coverage will not be adversely affected, according to NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton.

“All the resources we will be putting in for the Pope, the UN — they will not impact dramatically on the coverage in the precincts,” Bratton said.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said he’s confident in the security plan.

“I have great faith in our NYPD, and they’ve dealt with very, very important visitors in the past,” Schumer told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Jim Smith, on Sunday.

But he said Pope Francis is such a beloved figure that the visit can attract “people up to no good.”

Still, Schumer said the costs for the extra security are well worth it. De Blasio said it’s too early to know the cost to the city.

“All of New York, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, are so excited that he’s spending time here,” said Schumer, who is among those invited to be at the doors of St. Patrick’s to greet the pope.

A newly restored St. Patrick’s Cathedral is all set for the pope’s arrival Thursday and so are Catholics from across the Tri-State area who are eager to welcome him.

Working across the street from the cathedral, Arthur Straus has seen his share of dignitaries walk through during his daily visit for morning prayer. But this, he says, will be the ultimate.

“I’m very religious, I go to church every Sunday,” he told CBS2’s Janelle Burrell. “I would love to see him.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan said he’s preparing as well. Pope Francis will begin his whirlwind tour of New York with an evening prayer service at Saint Patrick’s Thursday, hosted by Dolan.

“Well I gotta get my hair done — obviously there’s a lot of last-minute details,” he said. “I, personally, am doing some intense prayer because I’ve said from the beginning that our Holy Father comes as a pastor apostle and he wants this to be an occasion of spiritual and moral renewal.”

Dolan said the pope is anxious to learn about the United States during his trip, adding the Holy Father once pulled out an atlas and asked Dolan to tell him about the different cities and regions in the country.

“It’s not that the pope comes so that we can see him; it’s the pope comes so that he can see us,” Dolan told WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb. “And he’s really attentive. He wants to learn about the Catholic church in the United States. So this is going to be a field trip for him — not only a pastoral visit, it’s a field trip.”

On Friday, he’ll give a speech at the United Nations General Assembly at 8:30 a.m., followed by a memorial service at 11:30 a.m at the World Trade Center.

From there, the pope will make his way uptown to East Harlem, where he’ll visit Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic School.

Afterward, his motorcade will make its way through Central Park for a procession at 5 p.m. ahead of his last official stop — Mass at 6 p.m. Friday at Madison Square Garden.

Holy See representative Bernardito Auza said an important theme of the pope’s U.N. address will be having mercy on those who have less and acting on that mercy.

“The countries have received many blessings, blessings of wealth, education, the enjoyment of freedom, natural resources will be summoned through these very blessings to assist those who do not yet have them,” Auza told WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb.

Meanwhile, when Francis is spending time in the UN hallways, he’ll be riding around in a cart.

“The pontiff likes to stop and chat, so they devised a motorized cart that will drive him through the corridors at a pace fast enough to get from the Secretariat Building to the General Assembly Hall but not speeding along so no one sees him,” CBS News U.N. Resident Correspondent Pamela Falk told WCBS 880’s Wayne Cabot.

To see a complete schedule of the pope’s upcoming visit, click here.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


Leave a Reply