Studies show how casinos would affect traffic
By G. Michael Dobbsnews@thereminder.com
SPRINGFIELD The traffic studies of both Penn National Gaming and MGM Resorts International have been posted on a section of the city's website dedicated to casino information and show that if either of the casinos receive the license from the state, both will require significant improvements to city streets and intersections.
Kevin Kennedy, the city's chief development officer, recently said that traffic mitigation would be among the topics discussed.
Both documents address traffic flows, amounts of cars attracted by the casinos and suggested improvements. Neither study addressed the impact of a possible rebuilding of the span of Interstate 91 through the city nor did the studies estimate a price tag for the improvements.
The two studies did not use the same kind of analysis. The MGM study included information on the traffic generated by its employees, which the Penn study did not. The Penn analysis predicted which highways would be used the most by its potential customers, a feature that isn't included in the MGM study.MGM Resorts International
The MGM study was compiled by the TEC engineering firm. It estimated the casino development would bring in 1,677 vehicle trips on Friday during the peak afternoon time and 1,718 during the peak Saturday time.
The MGM study also accounts for visitors who do not visit the casino, but instead the entertainment and retail complex as well as trips made by employees.
By instituting the various changes described before, the MGM study predicted the "C" level of service, which is defined as "the number of vehicles stopping [at a signalized intersection] is significant at this level, although many still pass through the intersection without stopping."
The suggested changes in the MGM plan include:
•Modify the barrier at the end of the I-91 southbound off-ramp and replace with guardrail to improve motorist sight distance at the merge area.
Install vehicle queue detectors on the I-91 southbound off-ramp that will be wired to the traffic signal controller at the intersection of West Columbus Avenue / Union Street. These will be used to monitor traffic conditions and provide an extended green interval, if necessary.
•Reconstruct the curb lines on Union Street under the I-91 bridge to accommodate five travel lanes where four exist today. The work can be completed between the existing bridge piers by implementing 10-foot wide left-turn lanes and 11-foot wide through lanes with 2-foot side shoulders (56 feet curb-to-curb). This may require adjustments to the bridge pier footings.
•Perform partial traffic signal reconstruction at the intersections of East Columbus Avenue / Union Street and West Columbus Avenue / Union Street and improve signal phasing. The exclusive pedestrian phasing to cross West Columbus Avenue will be converted to concurrent operations, whereby pedestrians will walk at the same time as the parallel traffic. The phasing has been modified to move, or clear, traffic through the two intersections with limited potential for blocking. Perform minor curb work and restripe the Union Street westbound approach to East Columbus Avenue to accommodate one through lane and one shared through-right lane. The eastbound receiving area will be limited to one lane. Additional lane use signs will be installed to direct motorists to the appropriate lane(s).
•Improve the corner radii between East Columbus Avenue and Bliss Street to more efficiently process patron traffic entering and exiting the self-park garages. Construct a 12-foot shoulder along East Columbus Avenue, between Howard and Bliss streets, to allow for acceleration and deceleration maneuvers associated with garage access. Perform minor improvements to the alignment of the channelizing islands on East Columbus Avenue as it approaches the northerly Exit 7 on-ramp to I-91 northbound (just north of State Street). Remove the existing on-street parking on State Street and resurface and restripe the pavement to accommodate a 10-foot left-turn lane into the hotel drop-off / valet parking area.
•Restripe a right-turn lane on State Street eastbound approach to Main Street within the existing curb lines. This better utilizes the existing pavement area. Perform pedestrian facility improvements along the Main Street, State Street, and Union Street corridors and all roadways internal to the project. This includes upgrades to the bus stops and shelters that lie in front of the site along Main Street.
•Install raised reflectorized stanchions along the painted centerline on Union Street and install regulatory signs to limit access into the self-park garage to right-in and right-out. The self-park exit is signed as a one-way exit.
•Work with Massachusetts Department of Transportation to deploy variable message signs on I-91 and I-291 to notify motorists of traffic conditions in the downtown area. These would be used to inform the public of varying traffic conditions for all downtown events, including the casino.
•Utilize on-site wayfinding signs to direct patrons to the access and egress points that are most efficient for the intended destination.
•Coordinate the traffic signals and improve vehicle detection along Dwight Street, if necessary, to improve the flow of patron traffic from I-291.
•Construct a pedestrian bridge between the project site and the MassMutual Convention Center. Penn National Gaming
According to Pen National's study conducted by Benesh, during the peak afternoon time when the Penn casino has its full build out of 3,610 gaming seats there would be 1,769 trips generated. The study noted the greatest amount of casino visitors would be using the area's roads during the greatest use by commuters.
The study also analyzed 17 geographic areas from which potential visitors could come and predicted the majority (40 percent) would be arriving by Interstate 91 from the south. The next highest concentration would be using the Massachusetts Turnpike and Interatate-91 points north and west at 35 percent. Only 10 percent of the visitors would be local.
The Penn study includes the following recommendations to achieve a "Level of Service C" for the city. A "C" level is defined by the report as "a stable flow drivers are somewhat restricted but not objectionably so." There was no estimate of the cost for the improvements.
The following are the suggested improvements:
•Chestnut Street at Congress Street: Install a traffic control signal.
•Dwight Street at Bond Street: Provide a break in the Dwight Street median to allow for through vehicles traveling east along Bond Street to continue through the intersection.
Install a traffic control signal.
•Dwight Street at I-91 North Bound Exit Ramp: Widen the exit ramp to provide two lanes an exclusive left turn lane and an exclusive right turn lane.
Install a traffic control signal.
•Congress Street between Main Street and Dwight Street: Eliminate on street parking to permit three travel lanes along Congress Street. The Congress Street approach to Main Street will have an exclusive right turn lane and a shared through / left turn lane.
The Congress Street approach to Dwight Street will have a shared through / right turn lane and an exclusive left turn lane.
•Dwight Street at Congress Street: Revise the pavement markings on the eastbound Congress Street approach to provide two lanes a shared through / right turn lane and an exclusive left turn lane. Revise the lane use along southbound Dwight Street to provide for three lanes an exclusive right turn lane, an exclusive through lane and an exclusive left turn lane. This will necessitate the removal of the median on this leg of Dwight Street. Replace the traffic control signal.
•Main Street at Emery Street: Provide a break in the Main Street median to allow for full access to Main Street from Emery Street.
•Widen the Main Street northbound approach to provide three lanes a through lane and two exclusive left turn lanes onto Emery Street.
•Widen the eastbound Emery Street approach to provide two lanes an exclusive right turn lane and an exclusive left turn lane. Install a traffic control signal.
•Main Street at Congress Street / Casino Valet / Garage Entrance: Revise the lane use along westbound Congress Street to provide two lanes an exclusive right turn lane and a shared through / left turn lane.
Install a traffic control signal.
•Main Street at Liberty Street: Replace the traffic control signal.
•Emery Street at Hollywood Casino Garage Main Drive: Widen Emery Street westbound to provide two lanes a shared through / left turn lane and an exclusive left turn lane. Install a traffic control signal.
•Emery Street at Columbus Avenue: Widen the median break between East Columbus Avenue and West Columbus Avenue to allow for two-way traffic. Install a traffic control signal.
•Coordinated Signal System: Provide an on-street master system to provide tight coordinated operation at the following signalized intersections: Main Street at Emery Street;
Main Street at Congress Street;
Main Street at Liberty Street;
Dwight Street at Bond Street;
Dwight Street at Interstate 291 west bound ramps;
Dwight Street at Interstate 91 northbound exit;
Dwight Street at Congress Street;
Dwight Street at Liberty Street;
Chestnut Street at Congress Street; and
Emery Street at Hollywood Casino Garage Main Drive.