Another Hearing Scheduled For Lawsuit Looking To Stop Atlantic City ‘Road Diet’ Near Casinos

Written By Stephanie Loder on March 4, 2024
Workers repave Atlantic Avenue for the 'road diet' project that Atlantic City casinos look to stop at a March 18 hearing

Just when you thought Phase 2 of the $24 million Atlantic City “road diet” had a green light to go ahead, another hearing on the lawsuit has been set for March 18.

The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority voted on Feb. 20 to step in and try to halt Phase 2 of the city’s plan to reduce four lanes of traffic on Atlantic Avenue into just two.

Keith Davis represents the Atlantic City casinos and hospital, while attorney Richard Trenk represents the city. If Phase 2 of the Road Diet is allowed to continue, Atlantic Avenue between Tennessee and Albany avenues would have just two lanes for motorists at different parts of the street.

Mayor Marty Small insists the Road Diet project is a win as far as cost and improved safety.

“Atlantic Avenue is one of the most dangerous streets in the state, and we are making every effort to fix that,” Small said in a statement.

Long saga continues for major roadway through Atlantic City

AtlantiCare and Atlantic City casinos in December filed a New Jersey lawsuit asking Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Michael J. Blee for an injunction to stop the roadwork.

However, Blee denied the injunction. On top of that, last month, Blee ruled that Phase 1 of the project had not proven to be an impediment and there wasn’t a reason for Phase 2 not to continue.

The CRDA in February decided to intercede in the lawsuit, claiming CRDA has jurisdiction over the ‘Road Diet’ because it is taking place on Atlantic Avenue in the city’s Tourism District.

“CRDA had been aware of the (Road Diet) project all along,” a city official told PlayNJ via email.

A CRDA Tourism District map indicates in yellow that it covers Atlantic Avenue from the Inlet to Chelsea.

Many believe Atlantic Avenue is ‘one of the most dangerous roads’

Small said the city secured $ 24 million between state and federal funding for this project. Funding for the project comes in part from a $10.3 million federal infrastructure grant sought by US Rep. Jeff Van Drew. Federal funding for the Road Diet was announced in 2022.

“A series of studies done by the State of New Jersey dating back to 2008 show Atlantic Avenue is one of the most dangerous roads in South Jersey from a public safety perspective, and this project should help drastically fix that,” said City Grant Consultant Jim Rutala.

Remington & Vernick Engineers also conducted a traffic report.

“Studies show that Atlantic Avenue is one of the most dangerous streets in America between fatalities and everything else,” the mayor said.

Phase I of the Atlantic Avenue Improvement Project began on July 20, 2022, at Maine and Atlantic avenues and completed in 2023, according to a release from the city.

The entire project is intended to reduce lanes along Atlantic Avenue from four to two with a bike lane added on each side of the street.

Atlantic City casinos argue Road Diet not healthy for area

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.

CRDA’s intervention also comes after lawsuit plaintiffs criticized Blee’s Jan. 26 decision about Phase 2.

“We stand firm in our belief that this change in traffic patterns on Atlantic Avenue could have very real public health, safety and general welfare implications,” Mark Giannantonio, president and CEO of Resorts Atlantic City said.

Giannantonio, also president of the Casino Association of New Jersey, said the Atlantic City Boardwalk casino properties and AtlantiCare were “disappointed” in the Jan. 26 ruling.

Small said last month that Phase 2 of the Atlantic Avenue Road Diet will begin after Labor Day and take two years to complete.

Phase 1, from Maine Avenue in the Inlet to Tennessee Avenue, was completed last year.

Photo by Wayne Parry / AP Photo
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Stephanie Loder

Stephanie Loder is a freelance writer for PlayNJ. She provides coverage of New Jersey's Atlantic City casinos while also focusing on the beach, boardwalk, and special gaming events. Prior to writing for PlayNJ, she covered Atlantic City government, breaking news, and casinos for The Press of Atlantic City in Pleasantville, N.J.

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