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Atlantic City Casinos Fight the City over Roadway Changes

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Atlantic City's long-awaited road-thinning project on Atlantic Avenue is moving forward despite a lawsuit filed by a group of casinos and a medical company. The plaintiffs, including AtlantiCare, Resorts Casino Hotel, Caesars and Tropicana, argue that the project will harm the casinos and limit access to AtlantiCare's hospital. However, city officials are proceeding with the project, which is intended to reduce the number of vehicular accidents involving pedestrians.

Legal Challenges to the Project

The lawsuit was filed on December 21, just as the city began resurfacing Atlantic Avenue between New Hampshire and Boston Avenues. The plaintiffs argue that reducing the number of lanes from four to two will cause traffic congestion and hinder access to the casinos and AtlantiCare's hospital. They also claim that the city failed to conduct a proper environmental impact study and did not obtain the necessary approvals from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA).

Related: Atlantic City Casino-Hotel Operators Face Antitrust Lawsuit for Room Rate Manipulation

City officials have defended the project, arguing that it is necessary to make Atlantic City's streets safer for pedestrians. They point to a city-commissioned study that found that 829 collisions occurred on Atlantic Avenue between 2013 and 2017, of which 75 involved pedestrians. They also argue that the project will improve traffic flow by reducing the number of left turns and encouraging drivers to use alternate routes.

On December 27, State Superior Court Judge Michael Blee denied the plaintiffs' request for an injunction to halt the project. However, he did not rule on the merits of the lawsuit, which is still pending. Blee scheduled a hearing for January 26, 2024, to consider arguments on the proposed injunction.

The road-thinning project is expected to cost $24 million, funded by state and federal grants. The project will include repaving Atlantic Avenue, constructing new sidewalks, installing new overhead street lights, and installing synchronized traffic lights.

Mayor Small Defends the Project

The project has been met with mixed reactions from residents and businesses. Some support the project, saying that it will make Atlantic City's streets safer and improve the overall appearance of the city. Others oppose the project, citing concerns about the impact on traffic, parking, and business activity.

Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr. has been a vocal supporter of the road-thinning project. In a statement released on December 22, he said, "This project is about making Atlantic City streets safer for our residents and visitors. It is about improving the quality of life in our city." He also dismissed concerns about the impact on traffic, saying that similar measures have been successful in other Shore towns.

The lawsuit is the latest in a series of legal challenges to the road-thinning project. In November, a group of residents filed a suit to halt the project, arguing that it would violate the city's zoning laws. That lawsuit is still pending.

The outcome of the current lawsuit is uncertain, but it is clear that the road-thinning project is a controversial one. The project has the potential to make Atlantic City's streets safer, but it also has the potential to harm businesses and traffic flow. Only time will tell whether the project will ultimately be successful.

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