A New DC Casino Is A Traffic Nightmare For Local Officials

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Officials in the Washington region are bracing for the traffic impact of the new casino at National Harbor, which expects a grand opening crowd topping 30,000 in less than two months.

The MGM National Harbor, which sits across from Washington, D.C., will have its grand opening Dec. 8 and plans to hold various promotional events and concerts in the weeks ahead. The casino is located in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and residents are anxious about the influx of traffic that will flow into the community. The county police chief and local leaders met with residents Wednesday to discuss their plans to minimize the impact, but the community does not feel reassured, reports FOX5.

The casino is expecting anywhere from 25,000 to 30,000 visitors within the first 24 hours of opening.

“They gave some good information about what they are planning on doing to try to control the traffic, but I just don’t have a lot of faith in it,” Stacy Ward, a local resident, told FOX5.

The casino itself will have a parking lot along with a garage that holds roughly 6,000 vehicles. Officials showed residents where they will station traffic officers, especially on Oxon Hill Road, which is expected to bear the brunt of the casino congestion.

The National Harbor is already a busy hub for travelers going in and out of Maryland. The number of vehicles on the National Harbor beltway increased by roughly 27,000 vehicles per day in the last seven years.

“The National Harbor will become a place where nobody wants to go because of all the gridlock and sitting in incessant, bumper-to-bumper traffic,” John Townsend, the manager of public and government affairs for AAA’s mid-Atlantic region said in July. “Now, at that spot, is a bottleneck. And the big question is what happens when a casino comes online?”

MGM promised 40 percent of employees will be residents of Prince George’s County in its agreement with community officials. In addition to the new jobs the casino will create for the local community, MGM provided roughly 2,000 jobs during the construction process. The construction cost of the casino is estimated at roughly $1.3 billion.

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