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Casino Traffic Eases Up In Jamul

Reported by Katie Schoolov

Concerns about persistent and widespread traffic tie-ups around a newly opened East County casino appeared to be unfounded Tuesday on its second day of operations.

On Monday, throngs of opening-day visitors to Hollywood Casino Jamul-San Diego, combined with roadway construction in the area, created miles of gridlock along state Route 94 between SR-125 and Honey Springs Road. Caltrans advised motorists that delays would be possible throughout the remainder of the week.

Those problems, however, largely failed to materialize Tuesday, according to the California Highway Patrol. As of midday, traffic was heavy only in the immediate vicinity of the gaming center, the state agency reported.

"This is pretty much nothing, compared to yesterday," CHP public affairs Officer Tommy Doerr said.

Photo caption: Vehicles on state Route 94, Oct. 10, 2016.

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Vehicles on state Route 94, Oct. 10, 2016.

In recent years, as plans for the resort casino made their way through approval processes, residents of surrounding rural communities, led by county Supervisor Dianne Jacob, fought hard against them.

Jacob argued that Caltrans was "failing the public by allowing the casino to open without all the badly needed road improvements in place."

"My advice to everyone out there: Stay away from that Jamul casino. Don’t gamble with your lives there," Jacob said. "And notify Caltrans that you want those traffic safety improvements now, and don’t allow access onto that state highway until it’s done."

Tribal officials said they expected to pay $23 million for road and transportation improvements in the area.

"The tribe maintains a longstanding commitment to the community," said Erica Pinto, chairwoman of Jamul Indian Village. "We are proud to fund roadway improvements and other essential services to make our community safer. These efforts are meaningful and important for our tribe and our neighbors."

In a statement, Caltrans said:

Per the (Tribal-State Gaming Compact), the (Jamul Indian Village) has acted in good faith to get the improvements implemented expeditiously but has encountered delays in the form of legal challenges. Caltrans requested approval from the County Board of Supervisors for use of the necessary right-of-way for the highway improvements twice in 2015. The County Board of Supervisors granted approval in April 2016.

Despite these delays, a new signalized intersection at the casino entrance has been installed, and more highway improvements are under construction and in planning for phased rollout. The responsibility of Caltrans related to these improvements is to review, approve, operate and maintain them for the safe and efficient movement of traffic on State Route 94.

Photo caption: The entrance at Hollywood Casino Jamul-San Diego, Oct. 10, 2016.

Photo by Katie Schoolov

The entrance at Hollywood Casino Jamul-San Diego, Oct. 10, 2016.

The casino features 1,700 slot machines, 43 table games and seven restaurants including Tony Gwynn's Sports Pub, which features memorabilia from the late Padres icon and an array of televisions for watching athletic contests.

The 200,000-square-foot facility, on the property of the Jamul Indian Village, also includes a nightclub.

A 25-year gaming compact between the state and the tribe was signed in August by Gov. Jerry Brown, setting the operating terms for the three-story facility, which will employ more than 1,000 people.

The casino roughly 20 miles east of downtown San Diego was built and will be operated by Penn National Gaming, which runs 27 other casinos across the United States.

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