Atlantic City casino visitors may soon find a smoother and safer ride to their destinations following a major repaving of Atlantic Avenue, thanks to a $2.7 million “road diet” by the city.
The plan to reduce Atlantic Avenue from four-vehicle lanes to two is moving forward with mixed reviews from residents and City Council.
“Studies show that Atlantic Avenue is one of the most dangerous streets in America between fatalities and everything else,” said Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small, Sr. “I couldn’t be happier as Mayor as we embark on this historic journey to improve Atlantic Avenue.”
The road diet project is funded by a $10.3 million federal infrastructure grant sought by U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-2nd.
The plan also means going from four lanes to two as well as adding bike lanes and parking, to slow traffic and increase safety, according to a statement from the mayor’s office.
Phase I of road diet removes car lanes, adds bike lanes
The New Jersey Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Research reported in 2021 there were 829 crashes in a five-year period, from 2013 to 2017 the length of the island from Maine Avenue to Albany Avenue. The crashes were caused by too many pedestrians, and the nature of the roadway, according to the report.
Casino visitors are no strangers to traffic coming into Atlantic City at peak times and traveling along Atlantic Avenue toward North Beach or Downbeach, especially during the summer.
More than 27 million people visit Atlantic City each year.
In 2021, the popular tourism website TripAdvisor named Atlantic City one of the top-trending beach destinations in the U.S. This means it’s a good idea for the Queen of Resorts to have excellent streets and traffic flow for visitors.
The vehicle backup sometimes happens starting in Midtown, at the end of the Atlantic City Expressway to Atlantic Avenue and then Pacific Avenue to visit Resorts, Hardrock, Ocean, Ballys, Sands, Claridge and Showboat. Borgata, Harrah’s and Golden Nugget are located near Brigantine in the Marina District.
Phase I of the Atlantic Avenue Improvement Project — also known as the “Road Diet” — began on Wednesday July 20, 2022 at Maine and Atlantic avenues.
The project will reduce lanes along Atlantic Avenue from four to two with a bike lane added on each side of the street. Other highlights of the project include freshly paved roads, brand new sidewalks, streetscaping, synchronized traffic lights at each intersection, improved lighting and the installation of fiberoptic.
“This project will not just improve the quality of life for the residents, but safety as well, which is paramount,” said city engineer Uzo Ahiarakwe. “Everything we do, safety is very important.”
Phase I of the Atlantic Avenue Improvement Project is from Maine to Tennessee Avenue. The start was delayed until now because of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“We’re moving as fast as we can,” said Ahiarakwe. “We’re going to try to do it in a timely manner so that by next year we can also start Phase II of the project.
City council aware of casino concerns
However, not everyone is sold on the road diet.
At a recent meeting of Clean and Safe, Casino Association of New Jersey President Mark Giannantonio, also CEO and president of Resorts Casino Hotel, expressed his concerns.
“At a peak time when the city is jamming, to think Atlantic Avenue could be one lane in each direction is a bit concerning. Is it going to be a turn-off to people coming into Atlantic City at peak times?” he asked.
The first midtown the road diet — from Maine Avenue in the Inlet — then to Tennessee Avenue in midtown, was approved by the city council last year.
Also included in the project will be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant sidewalks, as well as new drainage grates, new bike lanes, and traffic signal synchronization including LED streetlights.
The bottom line is that the city wants to improve safety for motorists and pedestrians by slowing vehicle traffic.
City Council Vice President Kaleem Shabazz said he will investigate any casino concerns about the project. His ward includes businesses and the casino district, and he said anything that could hinder traffic that could affect the casino industry is something he is concerned about.
“We’ll address it,” Shabazz said.
New Jersey Sen. Vincent Polistina, R-Atlantic, a longtime proponent of ending smoking in casinos, also cautioned the city to examine the road diet closely.
Polistina, who has an engineering background, said smaller lanes could be “problematic” for traffic heading to casinos or city events during holiday weekends.
“I have an engineering background, and I encourage you to really take a hard look at the road diet issue. I don’t think it’s the right thing. … One lane with events that happen is going to be very problematic,” said Polistina.
If you’re planning a spring 2023 visit Atlantic City casinos, remember that April also means regular street repaving in other locations throughout the resort which include:
- Pennsylvania Avenue (Pacific Avenue to Absecon Boulevard)
- Pacific Avenue (States to Pennsylvania Avenue)
- Melrose Avenue (Connecticut Avenue To Delaware Avenue)
- Mediterranean (Pennsylvania Avenue to Delaware Avenue)
- Delaware (Melrose Avenue to Atlantic Avenue)
Visitors can expect detours until the work is done.