Judge Rules Road Diet Phase 2 Can Continue, To Dismay Of Atlantic City Casinos

Written By Stephanie Loder on February 5, 2024
Work done as part of the 'road diet,' which a judge ruled can continue despite complaints from Atlantic City casinos.

Phase 2 of the $24 million “road diet” got the green light in Atlantic City after a judge failed to find that decreasing the number of traffic lanes from four to two on Atlantic Avenue would do any harm.

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

Blee denied the injunction on Dec. 22, and ruled on Jan. 26 that there was no evidence Phase 1 of the project had proven to be an impediment. He ruled that Phase 2 could continue.

The project aims to rebuild Atlantic Avenue and synchronize traffic lights for better traffic flow.

Details of ‘road diet’ taking place in Atlantic City

Phase 2 includes conduit installation, which is currently underway, according to a statement issued by a spokesman for Mayor Marty Small. The paving, striping, and traffic light synchronization portion of Phase 2 is expected to begin in early fall with work to be completed no later than summer 2025, the statement said.

Bids for Phase 2 paving will be taken this summer. CTX is the contractor handling the fiber portion of Phase 2, according to a statement on Monday from the city. Charles Marandino of Vineland was the contractor for Phase 1.

The paving, striping and synchronization under Phase 1 came to an end just ahead of the new year, with only street light improvements and GPS units for traffic signals coming under Phase I, according to the statement.

The city authorized the Remington & Vernick Engineer Traffic Report before entering into the Road Diet.

Small issued a statement after Blee denied the injunction, noting that “[s]ome very power people have been trying to stop this project since its inception, but the Small administration has been standing up to all of them.

“People keep wanting to make this about traffic flow, but 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.”

Following a request for comment on Blee’s Dec. 26 ruling, an email received on Monday from the mayor’s office said Small had “nothing additional to add at this time.”

Atlantic City casinos not happy with latest ruling

The plaintiffs in the case criticized the judge’s Jan. 26 ruling.

“The Atlantic City Boardwalk casino properties and AtlantiCare are disappointed in today’s ruling to grant temporary relief. 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 in an email.

Giannantonio, also president of the Casino Association of New Jersey, voiced concern that changing the traffic pattern would impact public health and safety.

It’s up to attorney Keith Davis, who represents the casinos and AtlantiCare, to discuss the next step with his clients.

Road diet continues to push forward

Funding for the project comes partly from a $10.3 million federal infrastructure grant sought by US Rep. Jeff Van Drew.

Small said in a statement that the two-phase plan means Atlantic Avenue additionally will have bike lanes and parking.

Phase 2 of the Atlantic Avenue road diet – from Tennessee Avenue in Midtown to the monument at Albany Avenue in Chelsea – expects to begin after Labor Day and take two years to complete. Phase 1, from Maine Avenue in the Inlet to Tennessee Avenue, came to a completion last year.

Atlantic Avenue spans the length of the island with businesses and convenience stores on either side. It sits two blocks from the Boardwalk, which Atlantic City casinos call home.

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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