One question that has been coming up incessantly during our preparations for the Eucharistic Congress has been, “What are we going to do about the construction on Malfunction Junction?” The short answer is, “At this point, who knows?” That probably wasn’t the answering you were hoping for. But rest assured, the topic has not been overlooked. One complication is that the new UAB football stadium is being built in one of the local parking lots that was used for buses arriving at the BJCC. Another major concern is that the highway construction zone is fluid and ever-changing.
Bishop Baker, James Watts, and Alex Kubik paid a visit to the Mayor’s office several months ago to seek some assistance in this matter. Mayor Woodfin’s staff has been extremely responsive and helpful; and has pledged to continue working with us up until the very last minute. The 5920bridge.com website includes a live map of the area which is constantly updated with day-to-day exit closings and changes. Donny Grundhoefer, the Diocesan Facilities Director, has been in touch with ALDOT to coordinate our Eucharistic Procession route, as it will need to cross the construction zone. We have been told the presence of a foreign dignitary like the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Pierre, may serve to motivate support for our plans. We pray this is true.
Is there any good news? Yes! The new 17th Street exit from I65 has been a welcome addition to the traffic pattern. While commuting has been difficult, the city has continued business as usual without any catastrophic failure. The BJCC has no plans to cease doing business, and the new shops and restaurants in the UpTown area continue to do business. All of this suggests that there is life going on north of 6th Avenue North and that bodes well for us. We are asking parishes that are remote to consider chartering buses to simplify arrival and parking. Not every parish can afford this but working together we can ensure everyone who wishes to can attend. Especially the homebound, the inconvenienced, and all those who cannot drive themselves. Those who live closer to the BJCC may not benefit from buses, but it may be useful to carpool to cut down on the traffic and parking volume.
With the support of the city and state authorities, we will be able to provide an up-to-date driving, parking, and procession plan as time draws near. For those who like to plan way ahead, this might require a little extra patience. But detailed instructions and even maps will be made available via email and the bhmcatholic.com Congress website. Alerts will be sent to parishes and made on Diocesan social media as they become available. Please continue to pray for all those involved in making sure we have a safe, hassle free trip to and from the BJCC. And keep your eyes and ears open for the updates as they become available!
Next week, look for updates on registration (there isn’t any), cost (there isn’t any), and lunch.