FORT WASHINGTON – The Prince George’s County Police Department is continuing to engage the community about its traffic management plan for the MGM opening. On Oct. 19, department and county staff gave a presentation about their multi-tiered plan to the Prince George’s County Local Development Council (LDC) and answered questions from both council members and […]
FORT WASHINGTON – The Prince George’s County Police Department is continuing to engage the community about its traffic management plan for the MGM opening.
On Oct. 19, department and county staff gave a presentation about their multi-tiered plan to the Prince George’s County Local Development Council (LDC) and answered questions from both council members and residents in attendance.
As previously reported, the plan is designed to handle the 9,000 to 10,000 vehicles anticipated to converge on MGM over a 24-hour period. The plan includes specified routes for traffic from each direction (Bald Eagle Road from 495, exit 2A or 3A from Virginia, flyover ramps from 295 and Route 210) and intersections where police officers will be stationed to direct traffic as needed.
Deputy Chief Chris Murtha of the Bureau of Patrol explained the basics of the plan for the LDC last Wednesday. He advised residents that traffic will be heavy and will not flow at the posted speed limit, but said police will give priority to local residents trying to get home when making adjustments to their plan, which he described as flexible.
“Those decision points will favor citizens, naturally, because it’s just best for the overall plan,” Murtha said. “MGM is a part of this county now. We’re not saying we’re going to give their customers second-rate service. What we’re just saying is, it makes more sense for us to move the folks through there who can get out of that traffic and get home and then deal with the folks who are trying to get to MGM.”
The traffic plan shows a total of 6,000 parking spaces available between MGM’s garage and three surface lots. Several LDC members questioned whether that would be sufficient, given the estimate of over 9,000 vehicles going to the resort.
Murtha said MGM expects to turn the garage over three times over 24 hours, and that by itself means 14,400 parking spaces. The 6,000 spaces also do not factor in valet parking.
Bradley Frome, assistant deputy chief administrative officer for public infrastructure with the county government, said they also anticipate ridesharing services seeing heavy use from MGM customers.
“I think you’re going to see over time an increasing number of people. The benefit to that, obviously, is they don’t have to be parked,” he said. “That’s going to be something that we’re not banking on, but there’s also a recognition that as it becomes more and more prevalent that’s going to have a positive impact overall.”
LDC member Zeno St. Cyr wondered how confident the police department was in that traffic estimate.
“I’m curious about how that number was arrived at. To me, the layperson, it seems awfully low,” he said. “And if, in fact, the number is much higher, how nimble is the traffic management plan in dealing with the additional traffic?”
Murtha said the numbers come from MGM’s estimates, but the police department will have officers standing by in reserve to add to their ranks if more traffic management is needed.
“We’re not experts in the entertainment field as far as what to expect, but MGM is pretty good. That’s their business; their business is to know their customers,” Murtha said. “I will say this: we don’t live by that number. We worry that people in this area are excited and there may be more.”
Residents also took the opportunity to voice their concerns. Jay Krieger asked about any measures the police are taking to deal with the potential traffic disruptions that the ongoing work to build a new interchange on Route 210 and Kirby Hill and Livingston roads may cause.
“It’s going to be 2019, probably, before Kirby Hill’s done. In the meantime, we’re going to have periodic lane closures on 210,” he said. “How will you be handling the already-taxed, failing roadway to deal with this large influx?”
Frome said the county is making Route 210 improvements a priority, and is talking with the state to find ways to fund similar interchanges further south and accelerate the work.
“What we’re looking to do with the state – because this is a state road – is to see if they can forward-fund construction and (the county) pledge that (future) revenue for that intersection,” he said.
Some residents expressed dissatisfaction with the plan. Paulette Gordon said she wanted to see more done to mitigate the impact of traffic on the local communities, for example northbound 210 and the area around Rosecroft Raceway, where MGM employees will be parking.
“You’ve got traffic going over to Rosecroft. MGM is going to be using Rosecroft. How is MGM going to compensate that area? I don’t just mean physically, yes infrastructure, but (for) using our police department, our roadways. You’ve got a two-lane highway going down from National Harbor to Rosecroft. It’s already crazy,” she said.
Murtha said the impacts around Rosecroft will be temporary, since employees will be parking on site after the opening period ends.
As for compensation, the county is in talks with MGM, but Frome said much of the police overtime and other expenses will be borne by county taxpayers.