PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — “Road closed.”
As crews prep for the NFL Draft in town from April 27 to April 29, signs like these have been a familiar sight for drivers along the Ben Franklin Parkway.
“I’m not too thrilled with it,” said Becca Cohen, who lives near the Parkway in Fairmount.
And when Phase 3 of road closures kicks in on Monday, then Phase 4 a day later, traffic in the area may get worse.
“Even though they announced the road closures, everyone takes the alternate routes so it just bogs down traffic wherever you go,” said Tre Gardener, who travels from New Jersey to Philadelphia almost daily.
But the month-long road closures have been necessary, says a city spokeswoman, due to the custom build of a 3,000-seat open-air theater near the Art Museum.
The total footprint of the Draft Experience in the city is equal to 21 football fields.
“We deserve it. The Eagles deserve this,” said Anthony Rosati.
In a statement, the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office said in part, “Every effort has been made to condense the timeline into the shortest build possible and to minimize disruption.”
But commuters like Gardener say traffic troubles have been a nuisance.
“I see their point where they want to do something different and have it out in the open, but how many people are you going to inconvenience?” he asked.
Meantime, Martin Collette, who lives near the Parkway, is welcoming the activity.
“I don’t mind it being there at all. It brings in a lot of business for the city. I’m used to having a lot of events take place on the Parkway,” Collette said.
There are also some parking restrictions in place, though the city’s Visitors Bureau has arranged free parking at the sports stadium complex, accessible by public transportation.
Meanwhile, the ride-share service Lyft is expecting a 200 percent surge in demand during peak hours of the Draft, according to Lyft’s Philadelphia General Manager Andrew Woolf. Based on those numbers, the company is also expecting a 175 percent increase in drivers that weekend, especially as the Penn Relays are scheduled on the same days.
It has also rolled out a feature called Lyft Amp in the city to help passengers find their rides in busy areas — it’s an LED device that sits on the driver’s dashboard and will display a specific color that also lights up on the rider’s cellphone.
Some of the road closures will last until May 7, about a week after the draft ends.