Traffic woes with Philly marathon

Posted: November 19, 2012

In Philadelphia today running may be the only reliable way to get where you need to go.

The Philadelphia Marathon has caused a massive number of street closures, including some that were not planned and threw a wrench into the public transit system's detours.

The unannounced changes caught many SEPTA bus riders off guard this morning.

On Route 48, which runs from Allegheny West to Penn's Landing, the driver told passengers he was only going as far as 23rd and Spring Garden streets.

More than a dozen passengers got off at 29th and Girard to catch the trolley -- only to find that it wasn't running.

SEPTA had not planned detours for bus 48 or trolley 15.

The agency's customer service line was overwhelmed with calls all morning, and the "real-time status checker" on their website was simply wrong.

The bus riders - including several elderly women and a mother with three kids - were angry at being stranded.

"On a Sunday morning?" one woman shouted. "People got to get to church."

Some had checked the service advisories and planned what should have been viable routes. Others hadn't heard about the marathon and expected transit to be running as usual.

In both cases, they were disappointed.

Septa spokesman Andrew Busch said the trolley service was disrupted because race organizers closed the Girard Avenue Bridge with no notice.

"Since it wasn't expected, we were at a disadvantage in terms of what we could do to notify people," Busch said. But even after five hours, SEPTA's website, Twitter accounts and real-time maps made no mention of the Girard Ave. closure.

Busch said he was unaware of the jammed phone line and the unplanned changes to Route 48. But he noted that SEPTA is at the mercy of the police and race organizers when it comes to last-minute road closures.

"When you have a situation on the ground that we're not controlling, we just have to react to it," he said.

Drivers who sought to skirt the Parkway closures by taking the Schuylkill Expressway also got a rude surprise. The highway was closed in both directions around 8 a.m. while crews rescued a person injured in a crash near West Conshohocken.

A helicopter landed on the expressway to pick up the injured person, who was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

The eastbound lanes reopened around 9 a.m., and the westbound lanes weren't cleared until 10 a.m.

There were also some reports of flight delays at Philadelphia International Airport this morning. At 11:35 a.m., Flight Tracker was reporting only 60 percent of outgoing flights departing on time.

The inner lanes of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Kelly Drive are scheduled to reopen at 4 p.m.


Contact Jessica Parks at jparks@philly.com.

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