Atlantic City will proceed with a project that aims to reduce the width of its main road, despite concerns from casinos and a hospital about potential traffic congestion and safety issues. Superior Court Judge Michael Blee rejected their arguments and ruled in favor of narrowing the road.
The project to narrow Atlantic Avenue, the main artery through Atlantic City’s downtown, was initiated in the name of pedestrian safety. City officials believe that reducing the road from four lanes to two will improve safety and create a more pedestrian-friendly environment. The project also aligns with the city’s efforts to enhance infrastructure and ensure the well-being of its residents and visitors.
Five casinos and a hospital raised concerns about the potential negative impacts of the road narrowing project. They argued that it could lead to gridlock, deter gamblers, and cause delays for emergency vehicles. Attorney Keith Davis, representing the Caesars, Tropicana, Resorts, Bally’s, and Hard Rock casinos, as well as the AtlantiCare hospital, questioned the city’s legal authority to alter traffic flows on Atlantic Avenue.
Judge Blee dismissed the arguments put forth by the casinos and hospital. He emphasized that no injuries had occurred as a result of the project, which began during the city’s slowest period.
Judge Blee also highlighted that if the opponents of the plan succeed in court, the road can be easily restored to its previous state. He determined that the personal inconvenience of residents and visitors does not constitute irreparable harm.
Davis questioned the city’s authority to proceed with the road narrowing project, citing that the area falls under the jurisdiction of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA). However, the judge noted that the CRDA was not involved in the litigation and did not appear in court. This absence may have influenced the judge’s decision to uphold the city’s authority to proceed.
By reducing the number of lanes, the city aims to create a more walkable environment, encouraging residents and visitors to explore the downtown area on foot. This aligns with the city’s vision of becoming a pedestrian-friendly destination.
Mayor Marty Small announced that the city secured $24 million in federal and state funding for the project. This funding will be used to pave roads, construct sidewalks, install new streetlights and synchronize traffic lights. The injection of non-Atlantic City taxpayer money demonstrates a commitment to enhancing the city’s infrastructure and overall appeal.
Despite the potential benefits, there are concerns about increased traffic congestion on Atlantic Avenue. Even with four lanes, the road often experiences heavy traffic, especially during events and concerts. Critics worry that reducing the road to two lanes could exacerbate congestion and lead to frustrating delays for both residents and tourists.
While the judge has scheduled a trial for February 2025, Mayor Small emphasized that work on the second phase of the project is set to begin in September. This timeline indicates that the project will likely be completed before the trial takes place. The completion of phase two will provide further evidence of the project’s impact on traffic flow and pedestrian safety.