A new traffic study, conducted by Fish Transportation Group and V3 companies, has indicated that the River North area of Chicago will in fact be able to accommodate the traffic that is expected to be generated by the temporary casino proposed by Bally’s in the famed Medinah Temple building, which has been vacant for two years.
Kevin O’Malley, the managing deputy commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation, told the Chicago Tribune that the new study gives “further final evidence” that the additional traffic created by the casino “can be accommodated in the River North Area.”
The study, which was commissioned by Bally’s, said that the venue is expected to generate over 450 trips during peak weekday traffic hours and over 500 during peak weekend hours. Opponents of the casino, such as local Alderman Brendan Reilly, questioned the integrity of the study, saying that it didn’t represent an objective investigation.
And Reilly didn’t stop there—he told the Tribune that the study was “seriously flawed,” and “clearly written for the sole purpose of concluding a casino will work at Medinah Temple.”
The alderman said he’s read numerous traffic studies over the years, and this particular report doesn’t exhibit the “credibility that an independent analysis would’ve provided.”
Back in May when discussions were still in preliminary stages, the site of the temporary casino was originally chosen to be a Tribune printing facility known as the Freedom Center, but was changed last-minute to the Medinah Temple. Reilly and others have pushed back ever since, arguing that the Temple is in one of the busiest areas in the city, and is not designed to handle such heavy traffic.
A local group known as the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents came out in opposition to the proposed plan earlier this year. Deborah Gershbein, the organization’s president, said at the time that the area around the Temple is “such a congested area already” that she “just can’t imagine how it would accommodate” the added strain.
During the initial discussions, Bally’s Chairman Soo Kim did acknowledge that the lack of dedicated parking was perhaps the biggest negative for the location, however the recent traffic study asserted that “Based on the completed parking observations, there is adequate parking in the area to accommodate this demand.”
O’Malley said that drop-off and pickup areas will be crucial for the casino’s success, and that Bally’s will need to be on top of their game with regards to valet services and rideshare options. He also noted that “traffic aides” will be placed at “many intersections in and around the area” to help facilitate the flow of traffic and parking.
The study also pointed out that not all staff and patrons will drive, and the area is accessible to all regular bus and train lines.
Reilly was extremely skeptical about these assumptions as well, telling the Tribune that the study is “vastly lowballing the number of vehicular trips to the casino and vastly overestimating the number of people who will be dumb enough to take the CTA or walk to this casino with cash in their pockets.”