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D.C. Leaders Laying Groundwork To Keep Pope Francis Safe During Visit

WASHINGTON (WJZ) -- We are now learning more about the preparations and the itinerary for Pope Francis' historic trip to our region. Security will be tight in Washington, D.C.

President Obama and the first lady will welcome the pope in person in less than two weeks.

Gigi Barnett with more on preparations.

Less than two weeks to go before the pope visits the nation's capital. He'll start at the White House with the president, and then he'll be the main attraction in a parade of parishioners.

On this tour, he'll address Congress.

The city is the first stop on Pope Francis' first-time U.S. tour. Washington, D.C. leaders say his time there will cause massive delays in the district.

The pope is expected to draw a crowd that resembles a presidential inauguration.

"There's been planning here going on for many weeks and I daresay months around this event, and so we're bringing the same energy and planning that we do to all of the national special security events," said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.

Mayor Bowser teamed up with her top cop, the Secret Service and her head of transportation Thursday to roll out their safety plan for the pop's two-day stay.

"Although I can't discuss the means or methods or specific resources or numbers of personnel we're going to allocate in order to carry out this protective responsibility, I can say there's been a tremendous level and amount of planning," said Special Agent James Murray, U.S. Secret Service.

For parishioners who want to see the pope up close, here's some advice--don't drive to the district.

"There will be several concert events at the Verizon Center, we have all the commuter traffic of a typical work week. Transit is still the best mode of transportation," said Leif Dormsjo, D.C. Department of Transportation director.

With the pope comes a big financial boost to D.C.'s restaurant reservations and hotels. Many are already sold out.

"We see those numbers ticking up. So not only will we have people, Washingtonians and people from around this region, but we expect people will come from out of town," Mayor Bowser said.

The archdiocese says spectators will not need tickets to see the parade on September 23, but they will have to pass through security and food and drink are not allowed.

If you'd like to watch the pope address Congress, the archdiocese will also set up a jumbo video screen on the National Mall. That will also be on Sept. 23.

The pope heads to Philadelphia and New York after visiting the nation's capital. His last day on U.S. soil is September 27.

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