DC Casino Delivers Thousands Of New Jobs, But Local Residents Are Angry

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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The grand opening of a casino promises to turn traffic around Washington, D.C., into a nightmare, sparking anger from residents.

The MGM National Harbor, which sits across from the District in Prince George’s County, Md. will have its grand opening Thursday night. The attraction is expected to draw anywhere from 25,000 to 30,000 visitors within the first 24 hours of opening, posing significant problems for rush-hour commuters in the D.C. region. The casino is delivering 3,600 new jobs the area, but the community is split on having a Las Vegas-style casino in their backyard, reports WUSA9.

The casino will be in the Oxon Hill community right off the main road. Some locals are excited about the job possibilities but say their neighborhoods have already been negatively impacted by the casino’s presence.

“Traffic… it’s a nightmare,” Dee Brown, a resident of Oxon Hill, told WUSA9. “I can’t go out the house after three o’clock. I was thinking about applying and just work there. It’s close to my house and I’m sure a lot of people feel the same way…I just don’t like the fact that the residents weren’t considered.”

Officials showed residents in October where they will station traffic officers for the grand opening, 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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