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Traffic upgrades are key to casino plans in Mass.

Chris Gordon, project manager for Wynn, toured the proposed entrance area for a Wynn Casino.Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

When Plainville and Everett in 2013 overwhelmingly approved proposals to host gambling parlors, residents were quick to focus on the promises by casino executives: jobs for locals, a check for millions each year to municipal government, and the promise of millions more to be spent at local businesses.

As part of the agreements, the casinos also had to work up traffic plans for each site to accommodate increased cars and pedestrians.

Wynn Everett, owned by Las Vegas gambling mogul Steve Wynn, proposes spending at least $56.5 million to help relieve congestion around the proposed Everett casino.

Plainridge Park Casino, which plans to open a slots parlor on Route 1 in Plainville in June, committed $4 million to upgrading Route 1 and the roads leading to its main entrance.


And in Brockton, Massachusetts Gaming & Entertainment has allotted $8 million to fix local roads as it contends with New Bedford for the final casino license in the state.

The Plainville casino’s 1-mile proximity to Interstate 495 and its location in a commercial corridor of Route 1 allow a relatively quick fix. But commuter traffic along narrower roadways and surrounding neighborhood clusters has created a bigger traffic challenge in Brockton. Similar conditions have also prompted opposition in the dense area surrounding the Everett casino site.

In Plainville, the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs approved the traffic-mitigation proposal for the slots parlor last December. In March, workers began to rebuild a ramp and add a traffic light leading from Interstate 495 onto Route 1; the paving of a half-mile stretch of Route 1; and the addition of a traffic light to help motorists enter and exit from the casino.

“From a customer standpoint, this is significant,” said Lance George, Plainridge general manager, because the roadwork will improve traffic flow along Route 1, where 27,000 cars already pass by on weekends. When the $225 million casino opens in two months, as many as 2,700 cars will visit the site on weekends, George said.


Back in 2013, many saw gambling as a way to bring new life to this Southern Massachusetts town, with 76 percent of voters approving a referendum to allow a casino. According to locals, little has occurred to change their minds. Maria Chrisidis, who owns Plainville House of Pizza 4 miles from the slots parlor, endorsed the road improvements and said she hoped the casino will bring business to her restaurant.

“We definitely need to put another traffic light in on Route 1 and another entrance to get to the casino,” she said, “because I think now people are getting very confused when they’re there.”

Although the Plainville road upgrade was made in time to keep the June opening on schedule, the proposed Everett Wynn project has not fared as well with state officials.

Earlier this month, Matthew Beaton, environmental affairs secretary, declined to approve the planned project and instructed Wynn to go back to the drawing board and resubmit another proposal. In his decision, Beaton flagged the MBTA’s $6 million sale of a 1.76-acre strip of land to Wynn that would serve as the main casino entrance as an illegal transaction, because it occurred before the completion of the state’s final review process.

Plainridge general manager Lance George inspected a section of Route 1 in Plainville where a median is being torn up. Joe Giblin for The Boston Globe/Globe Freelance

In addition, Beaton also called for Wynn to come up with a traffic plan that integrates Boston’s long-range plans for Sullivan Square and Rutherford Avenue.


Wynn Everett had planned to begin road improvements in the summer of 2016, finishing in time to open the casino in December 2017. With the state’s recent decision, Wynn Everett president Robert DeSalvio acknowledged that the $1.6 billion casino project would have to wait.

“We are disappointed that the new jobs and new tax revenues that would have helped so many people in the Commonwealth will be delayed,” DeSalvio said in a statement.

There is no deadline for Wynn to resubmit an application to the state with a revamped traffic plan, and an explanation of Wynn’s acquisition of the T land. Wynn spokesman Michael Weaver said the company is preparing its responses for the state, and it is unsure how the delay would affect construction.

According to Weaver, an estimated 20,130 vehicles would visit the casino on Fridays, and another 23,980 would arrive on Saturdays. He said the casino is expected to generate $836 million in gambling revenue during its first year.

“We cannot estimate the timing of impacts until we know when we will receive final environmental approval and know when work can begin,” said Weaver.

The $14.4 million roadwork planned for the host city, which includes rebuilding lower Broadway near the casino site and widening and reconstructing parts of Sweetser Circle and Santilli Rotary, was hailed by Everett’s mayor, Carlo DeMaria Jr.

“We will see improvements to infrastructure that we simply would not have been able to tackle on our own,” DeMaria said.


But not all elected officials in the region are satisfied with the proposed traffic plan. Mayor Joseph Curtatone of Somerville, who along with Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston and Mayor Dan Rizzo of Revere have filed lawsuits against the state gambling commission to halt the Wynn project, said any proposed traffic mitigation around the casino site should include Somerville.

“Wynn’s proposed mitigations or representations are grossly inadequate,” Curtatone said. “They underestimate the amount of impact and the amount of traffic flow.”

While other roadwork is planned for Charlestown, Chelsea, Medford, and Revere, residents of Everett eagerly await the casino’s construction. Nearly two years ago, 86.5 percent of voters approved the casino referendum, a project that would pay the city more than $25 million a year and give residents first rights to casino jobs.

Still, the prospect of an 18-month building project in several key parts of the city bothers some, including Nicole Capavella, who likened the mitigation to a “hangover” after a night of gambling.

“It’s already insane traffic in this city,” she said. “The rotaries are backed up already. It’s going to be one big headache.”

In Brockton, Mass. Gaming & Entertainment, a subsidiary of Rush Street Gaming, is the sole applicant to date for the third casino license in the state. Although the city plans to hold a casino referendum on May 12, Mass. Gaming already is proposing an $8 million traffic project to free up cars along the Brockton Fairgrounds, where the casino would be built.


“My biggest concern is traffic in that area,” said Mayor Bill Carpenter, who wants the traffic on Belmont Street, Forest Avenue, and West Street — all of which flows into residential neighborhoods — to be redesigned to accommodate patrons getting to the proposed $650 million, 250-room hotel complex.

Carpenter, who worked as a ring announcer at boxing matches for years at the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos in Connecticut, believes traffic problems during peak casino entry times, such as 9 p.m. on weekends, can be overcome with good planning.

“A casino is not the same as a ballgame or a concert,” said Carpenter. “Everybody doesn’t try to leave at once, and everybody doesn’t try to come in at once.”

Steven A. Rosenberg can be reached at srosenberg@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @WriteRosenberg.