Atlantic City Officials Dismiss Casinos’ Road-Narrowing Claims

Posted on: January 21, 2024, 01:35h. 

Last updated on: January 21, 2024, 01:35h.

Atlantic City officials in a legal brief last week rejected claims from five casinos in town that the narrowing of Atlantic Avenue from Boston to New Hampshire avenues will hinder emergency vehicles.

Atlantic City road narrowing lawsuit
A section of Atlantic Avenue in Atlantic City awaits repaving on Dec. 13, 2023. Atlantic Ave. is being narrowed from four lanes to two to increase pedestrian safety with wider sidewalks. (Image: AP)

Atlantic City is amid a road narrowing of the city’s primary corridor in what’s being called a “road diet.” The $24 million project will reduce the number of vehicular lanes from four to two.

The Atlantic City government says the narrowing will make the road safer for pedestrians by increasing sidewalk space. Bally’s, Caesars, Hard Rock, Resorts, and Tropicana say the road diet will increase traffic congestion.

In a lawsuit filed in New Jersey Superior Court, the casinos, along with co-plaintiff AtlantiCare, a local health care system serving southeastern New Jersey, argue that the lane removal might prevent emergency vehicles from getting people to the AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center’s emergency department and possibly lead to the loss of life.

The casinos and health care network asked state Judge Michael Blee to issue an injunction to halt the project until a more thorough traffic study on the project’s impact on congestion is completed.

City Dismisses ER Claim

In the city’s legal response, attorney Keith Davis says a traffic study has already been conducted and that the analysis found that ambulances would not be slowed by the lane reductions. Davis said that renders the plaintiffs’ request for an injunction unwarranted.

Davis also asks Blee to dismiss the casinos and AtlantiCare’s allegation that the city needed approval for the project from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA). The plaintiffs argue that the CRDA has legal authority over Atlantic Ave. because it falls within the city’s Tourism District.

The Tourism District statutes … provide that once the Tourism District is established, the Authority ‘shall have, with respect to the roads and highways located within the tourism district, exclusive jurisdiction with respect to the promulgation of rules and regulations affecting the control and direction of traffic in the tourism district,’” the casinos’ lawsuit asserted.

The CRDA was not consulted on the road narrowing nor asked to give its approval. Davis said in his response that the city does not have a legal obligation to field CRDA approval for the infrastructure venture.

The CRDA is a state agency that uses casino funds to support redevelopment projects throughout Atlantic City. According to its website, the Authority also “oversees land use planning.”

Safer AC

Atlantic City leaders say making Atlantic Ave. safer is critical to making the casino town more appealing to visitors, most of whom arrive in town via the Atlantic City Expressway.

The Expressway arrives at Baltic Ave. at Christopher Columbus Blvd./Arkansas Ave. Most cars headed to casinos then proceed two blocks towards the ocean and make either a left or right turn on Atlantic Ave. depending on where their resort is located along the Boardwalk.

The 2.7-mile stretch of Atlantic Ave. in question was home to over 800 traffic accidents between 2013 and 2017. Over 9% of those traffic accidents involved a pedestrian.

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