ATLANTIC CITY — In Atlantic City, traffic flowed smoothly Monday, the opening day of Revel.
Residents said there was no noticeable traffic increase. While they said people regularly stopped and asked for directions to one casino or another, they were unaware that Revel had even been open for hours.
At about 2 p.m., Anthony Rodriguez, 21, and Rocky Figaro, 25, sat a few blocks away from Revel on the front porch of a house in the 200 block of Oriental Avenue near Seaside Avenue. There were exactly three cars parked on both sides of the street. The ocean, several hundred yards to the south, was audible.
Revel is the beneficiary of the $42 million South Inlet Transportation Improvement Project, which created a wide-open boulevard for Revel patrons. Connecticut Avenue — which is newly paved, smooth as a pool table and unofficially renamed Revel Boulevard — serves as driveway into the casino.
The roadway project was overseen by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and underwritten by the South Jersey Transportation Authority, with a third of the money coming from the state Department of Transportation.
The CRDA previously said the road would likely be able to handle well in excess of 10,000 drivers per day.
But even with thousands of cars pouring into the casino Monday, residents in the battered neighborhoods around the mammoth casino said they faced few problems once Revel opened.
Jerry Sheridan, 61, lounged in a chaise chair in one of the garden spots off the casino floor. A resident of the Waterside Apartments, about five blocks closer to the inlet, he said the neighborhood remained quiet.
“No wanderers or strays,” Sheridan said. “I haven’t seen no stragglers down our way, New Hampshire Avenue.”
The SJTA, which operates the Atlantic City Expressway, could not provide traffic counts for Monday, but traffic seemed to flow without delays.
City police said there were no traffic incidents. Instead, public information officer Sgt. Monica McMenamin said, traffic was steady throughout the day.
“At that end of town there was traffic, but no traffic problems,” she said.
If anything, the excitement was farther down the Boardwalk where an allegedly drunken driver led police on a chase onto the expressway.
Drivers reported some problems finding their way to Revel.
Jason and Jennifer Reilly drove from the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa where they were staying. The Bristol, Pa., residents said the short trip over was somewhat confusing.Without all the signs in place, it was easy for drivers to find themselves in the wrong lane, shifting at the last minute to a chorus of horns.
“You know how when you know where people are going, you follow them?” related Jason Reilly, 36, who drove. “This time, it’s like the blind leading the blind.”
He joked that the confusing roadways and signs meant “they try to kill you to keep you” from getting to Revel.
At the casino itself, drivers found themselves in a massive new garage that spreads across an entire city block and rises 13 stories, counting the roof deck. It is clean, and even though business inside seemed bustling, there was little problem finding parking inside the massive 7,800-space facility.
Drivers proceed up wide, multilane ramps, avoiding the cramped nature of some of the resort’s older garages. The individual parking garage floors are sprawling, at tens of thousands of square feet each. But what could be a deep, penetrating gloom is pierced with high-powered overhead lights placed just a couple of car-lengths apart.
Patrons can pay their $5 parking fee before getting back in their car, although not all do, and some pay at the exit booths. Consequently, when drivers tried to leave, there was a confused scramble between the several booths that accept cash and those that accept pre-paid tickets.
That exit — a dimly lit tunnel that leads to Massachusetts Avenue — was the only complaint of cab driver Mohammad Safiullah, 56. The Atlantic City resident said business was good. “Inside it is beautiful, but it is dark,” he said of the garage
Throughout the day, city police and casino security were also prominent and visible as they made their rounds.
Joe Sangataldo, 47, reached the casino at 7:30 a.m., taking the expressway all the way in and then using Arctic Avenue to go uptown.
Even though there was free street parking a few blocks away, he chose the garage. The gigantic parking garage was tremendous, the Vineland resident said.
“They could hold the Democratic National Convention here,” he said.
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