Some set New Year’s resolutions to begin and stick to a diet. Casinos in Atlantic City are asking for one to stop.
A group of Atlantic City casinos has filed a lawsuit in New Jersey, requesting an immediate injunction for the city and its contractor to end a “road diet” that would narrow Atlantic Avenue from four lanes to two.
The project has already begun the restriping process to reflect the new traffic pattern here between New Hampshire and Boston avenues.
Judge Michael Blee has scheduled a hearing for Jan. 26.
Impact of ‘road diet’ on Atlantic City casinos
While the “road diet” would cut the number of through-lanes in half, plans are in place to create a center turning lane, bike lanes on each side of the road as well as parking.
However, Atlantic City casinos fear increased traffic congestion throughout the city that “may detrimentally impede first responder emergency services as well as the general public’s access to commercial properties, according to a letter from Keith Davis, an attorney for the casinos.
Added Mark Giannantonio, president of the Casino Association of New Jersey and Resorts Atlantic City, the traffic pattern change “could have very real public health, safety and general welfare implications.”
“Ambulances routinely utilize Atlantic Avenue to access the ARMC (AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center), which depends on ease of access to supply lifesaving treatment. Atlantic Avenue is also a coastal evacuation route in the event of a serious storm event and is the main pathway in the city for NJ Transit bus service. The confluence of these elements does not generally exist in towns and on streets where ‘road diets’ have been implemented.”
As reported by the Press of Atlantic City, Giannantonio noted that the city went ahead with the road diet without filing a required application with the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. The CRDA oversees the Tourism District, which includes Atlantic Avenue.
Mayor Small: Until further notice, ‘road diet’ will continue
An attorney for the AC casinos, Davis said that, before “this drastic ‘road diet’ change is implemented,” it must undergo a traffic study by a professional traffic engineer.
“Some very powerful people have been trying to stop this project since its inception,” Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr. said in a statement. “This project is being done in the name of safety for the residents and visitors of the Great City of Atlantic City, not to mention the taxpayers don’t have to spend a dime to get their streets paved and traffic lights synchronized.
“Atlantic Avenue is one of the most dangerous streets in the state, and we are making every effort to fix that. I’m happy to say striping will continue along Atlantic Avenue as we enter the new year, so we can ensure cleaner and safer streets in Atlantic City in 2024.”
After all, as noted in a brief filed by the city’s special counsel, the project “will provide improved navigation for emergency vehicles with a turning lane providing room for emergency vehicles as well as bike lane which would provide additional room for motorists to pull over for emergency vehicles.”
Atlantic City casinos must wait until Jan. 26 to make their case
This $24 million project aims to not only rebuild the stretch of road but also improve street lighting and synchronize streetlights to create a better traffic flow.
Reducing the lanes came as a decision so that Atlantic City could qualify for federal and state funding to pay for the project.
While supportive of repaving and improving stoplights, the casinos believe there is a need for a more comprehensive study to determine potential impacts of the project on surrounding areas.
Certainly all of this, and more, will be discussed in front of Judge Blee during the Jan. 26 hearing.