Boston Casino Expected to Impact Local Traffic
The city of Melrose, Massachusetts will be able to use $100,000 in mitigation funds sent its way by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to help alleviate expected traffic problems from the Encore Boston Harbor when it opens next June.
The mitigation fund will be used to improve the 2.5 mile commuter corridor along
Pleasant and Washington Streets leading toward MBTA transit station at Maiden’s Oak Grove.
The funds were formally accepted at the most recent meeting of the city’s Board of Aldermen. The grant was awarded even though the city doesn’t directly abut Everett, where the casino is rising.
The casino plans to offer shuttle service for its own employees. A city official told the board: “They’re encouraging their employees to travel to the casino on the Orange Line. And the last step on the Orange Line is Oak Grove, which abuts Melrose.”
Nevertheless, the increased traffic is expected to glut the commuter corridor that leads to the transit station. The MGC agreed with that argument and authorized the grant, a quarter of which is set aside for a study of existing traffic and pedestrian conditions. The rest will go toward implementing the study’s recommendations.
Recommendations that could be made include improved crosswalks, ADA compliant ramps and maybe new or relocated bus stops.
Some of the traffic analysis has already begun in advance of the funding. City officials monitored how the traffic was along the corridor during the summer.
The Alderman who represents the area that contains the corridor said a study he and the Melrose Police Department conducted showed the area already has heavy traffic by pedestrians already.
The Alderman, Shawn MacMaster, added “We’re going to see more foot traffic, and we’re going to see more traffic in general, which I think makes it very clear that there are some improvements that we should be looking at.”
Because Melrose was considered a “neighboring community” instead of a “surrounding community” it didn’t get as much mitigation funding as other cities.
In its first month in business the $960 million MGM Springfield earned $27 million, which is under expected results. Of that, $8.8 million came from gaming tables and the remainder from slot machines.
The figures were released by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, and included those for the other operating casino, Penn National’s Plainridge Park Casino. The combined gross revenues were $41.3 million.
The MGM Springfield reported $9.5 million during its first eight days of operation. The rest of the month’s revenue never approached that weekly high. MGM has projected that it would bring in $418 million for the first year of operation, but at the current rate of less than $1 million per day, that amount is unlikely.
MGM’s National Harbor casino in Maryland generated $41.9 million in December 2016 after only being open for three weeks. Maryland’s population is 6 million compared to 7 million for Massachusetts.
In spite of these discouraging numbers, MGM Springfield President Michael called the opening month’s figures “on track” with expectations. He cited September’s “solid visitor volume” and said hotels and restaurants in the complex had solid numbers of guests “eager to experience what our new resort has to offer.”