Wynn Everett officials unveiled its transportation plan, outlining a series of major improvements to roadways, intersections, sidewalks, bikeways, traffic lights, and signage on the routes leading to the proposed $1.6 billion casino/resort on the former Monsanto site in Everett.
Robert DeSalvio, senior vice president – development for Wynn Resorts and Alexandra Siu, manager, traffic engineering at Howard/Stein Hudson Associates, Inc., gave a comprehensive presentation of the transportation plan during an interview with the Charlestown Patriot-Bridge Monday at the KHJ Brand Activation offices in Boston.
KHJ, led by Charlestown resident Greg P. John, chairman and chief creative officer, is handling public relations for the project. John Tocco, who has been involved in the Wynn Everett project since its inception, was also present for the meeting.
DeSalvio, who began at Wynn in March, has many years of experience in the casino industry, having worked in positions of leadership at Sands, Caesars, and Bally casino projects in Atlantic City, Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, and the Sands Resort Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which was built on the site of the old Bethlehem Steel Plant.
“In Bethlehem, we created an integrated destination resort casino project, very similar to what we’re proposing in Everett,” said DeSalvio. “We’re looking forward to getting this process through to conclusion on Sept. 12 with the awarding of a license, hopefully in the favor of Wynn Resorts.”
DeSalvio said that Wynn’s entire transportation plan “represents a $50 million private investment – with not one dollar of public money going into this.”
Wynn will make $5 million in immediate improvements to Sullivan Square, Charlestown, including the entrance to the square from the Route 93 North exit ramp (Exit 28). Wynn will also provide $1 million per year for 15 years for additional traffic improvements to Sullivan Square, increasing the total allotment for transportation to $20 million in Sullivan Square and $65 million in total.
The Wynn improvements are designed to connect with the long-term Sullivan Square/Rutherford Avenue road reconstruction plan, which Wynn supports.
One major improvement in the plan is the construction of a flyover (overpass) at Santilli Circle. Siu said that there will also be improved signage at Sweetser Circle “and by formalizing at least two approaches to every entrance to the rotary as well as adding a third one out of the site on to Broadway – this will make things safer at Sweetser Circle, reduce sideswipe crashes, and also improve the operations and capacity.”
Wynn’s regional transportation plan addresses the following modes of transportation: cars, rail, buses, bikes, walking, and boats (Wynn’s enclosed ferry boats will travel year round in a loop from the Wynn Resort in Everett to Long Wharf to the World Trade Center/Seaport area and back).
“When you talk about transportation strategy, you really have to look at a holistic approach – we looked at the transportation plan in a very comprehensive way,” said DeSalvio.
For example, Siu said that Wynn’s traffic studies evaluated a total of 57 different intersections in Everett and six other adjacent communities including Charlestown.
DeSalvio said that one aspect of the Wynn plan that will decrease vehicular traffic is that all employees will be required to park their vehicles off site.
“In order to try to minimize the amount of cars that come on to the site or near the site – we’re going to have all of our employees park off site and use a shuttle system to bring them in,” said DeSalvio, adding that the off-site parking lots will be situated at Station Landing (Wellington Station in Medford), Malden Center, and Lower Broadway in Everett.
DeSalvio said that vehicular traffic will also be reduced “because we feel through the use of our water transportation network for the development and having (ferry) stops in Boston and Charlestown, that we can get about six percent of our [customer] traffic to use the network – which would be terrific.”
DeSalvio also anticipates a Wynn bus shuttle system for guests from regions north, west, and south of Everett who will park their vehicles in “premium park and ride” lots, similar to the Logan Airport park and ride system.
Wynn Everett will be promoting the use of Route 93 to its potential customers. “We’ve heard from the residents of Charlestown that they would prefer that in all marketing communications that we promote people to use Route 93 instead of coming through the roads of Charlestown to get to the casino,” said DeSalvio.
At the peak operating hour of the casino, which is Friday, from 9 to 10 p.m., the resort/casino will generate an extra 540 trips, which is split between inbound and outbound trips.
“That’s a 17 percent increase in traffic at the peak hour,” said DeSalvio.
Tocco added that, “The great thing about a casino/resort is that during the conventional rush hours, from 7 to 9 a.m., very few people go to the casino. What that means is that the people traveling at those times will enjoy all these extra mitigation improvements during normal commuter periods – so their commutes will take less time.”
“When you start talking about Santilli Circle and Sweetser Circle, you’ll see that these are 24-hour, 7-day-a-week improvements that the motoring public will take advantage of,” said DeSalvio.
DeSalvio said he has been impressed by the new Alford Street Bridge (Route 99). “I drove it this weekend and it looks great. It’s made a big difference in traffic already.”
Wynn Everett will have one major entrance to the casino with two dedicated, left-turn lanes. There will be a secondary road for service vehicles and shuttles.
“We’re signalizing the main entrance to the project site,” said Siu. “That’s going to be a new intersection. We’re also upgrading the intersection at Alford and Dexter Streets with new traffic signal equipment. And we’re going to try [traffic signal] coordination along the entire corridor on Lower Broadway. We’re also doing widening beyond the existing curbs to add additional travel lanes and turning lanes in to and out of the site. We’ll also be adding turning lanes at other intersections along Broadway and Alford Street to make turning in to the side streets a lot easier.”
The plan also includes maintaining the bus stops and shelters along Broadway, new accommodations for bicyclists and redoing all of the sidewalks.
“You need the traffic to flow smoothly in and out of the site or it has a ripple effect and could go over the bridge and actually start affecting the performance in Sullivan Square, so we spent a lot of time and effort working on the entry way and expanding Broadway which will have a much bigger effect of making sure that traffic flows smoothly in either direction,” said DeSalvio.