Opening of New California Casino Causes Traffic Problems

by Kyle Miller

Hollywood Casino Jamul, San DiegoNew gaming venue Hollywood Casino Jamul-San Diego causing severe traffic problems after opening on Monday.

A new gaming venue has opened in the state of California, giving gamblers even more options when it comes to casino game play. The Hollywood Casino Jamul-San Diego opened on Monday after major issues from opponents of the gaming venue. Tribal interests had to fight for some time to be able to open the gaming venue and now it seems one area in which the opponents were worried about is actually causing an issue.

Traffic Jams

When the new Hollywood Casino was under construction, opponents were worried that traffic problems would arise in the area. This worry seems to be legitimate as the California Highway Patrol has stated that due to the opening yesterday, traffic was delayed by extreme amounts of time, including two to four hour delays. Traffic was backed up for miles along State Route 94, known as Campo Road, and continued to back up to Otay Lakes Road and Kenwood Drive. Jams in traffic also took place along Lyons Valley Road and Skyline Road.

An incident page located on the site of the California Highway Patrol showed several complaints from motorists who reported cars were parking on both sides of the street along highway 94 and in nearby streets, which is of course, illegal. This type of parking was done after the casino’s parking lot filled to capacity. The parking lot is only able to hold 1,800 vehicles.

Reports also indicated that drivers were making illegal u-turns as well as passing when they were not legally supposed to, making right turns in a left turn lane and individuals were walking along the highway. Parents were worried about not being able to get home to their children as well as worried about children being stuck on a school bus for too long with no air conditioning. Apparently, one parent reported that children at Steele Canyon High School were stranded as they waited for parents to arrive for pickup.

Other witnesses reported that a fire station was blocked by traffic which is a big hazard concern. As many as 40 cars blocked the fire station at one point in time. The fire department did report later on that they had no trouble being able to move emergency vehicles in and out of the area.

Traffic Problems Just Beginning

A private ribbon cutting ceremony was held at around 11 am yesterday at the casino and then the public was invited inside at around 2pm. The traffic problems began in the morning and only escalated into the evening hours.  By the afternoon hours, the roads had signs flashing messages to warn drivers that there would be extreme delays and that the casino was at capacity.

The Highway Patrol even went so far as to issue a traffic advisory to urge drivers to avoid the area for as many as 6 to 8 hours. This however is unavoidable for those who live in the area and do not have alternative route home. Delays are expected to continue.

Opposition to the Casino

Residents in the area have been strongly opposed to the new gaming venue due to traffic concerns, among other reasons. Supervisor Dianne Jacob commented on the traffic issues on her Facebook page stating that what the community feared has come to pass. Jacob stated that the traffic is why they fought the casino in the first place, as it is located along a two lane rural state route. Jacob further stated that Caltrans badly failed the public as they allowed the casino to open before the road improvements were put in place. Road changes were included in an agreement set in 2009 between the Jamul Indian Village and the state.

The tribe did commit to spend as much as $23 million on infrastructure improvements but so far only a portion of 94 has been completed and this is only located in front of the gaming venue.