Alderman Calls for Independent Third-Party Review of River North’s Trafic Study over Bally’s Temporary Casino Concerns

Bally’s plans for the construction of a temporary casino in the River North neighborhood were backed by a recent traffic study. However, the alderman neighbors said no to such a move, especially considering the fact that the study has been reliant on casino visitors using the services of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) at a time when criminal activity is on the rise.

The aforementioned study, which was initiated and funded by the developer of the temporary casino venue, Bally’s, found that the potential increase in traffic originating from the casino establishment will be able to be handled by the River North area. However, some project opponents have shared their doubts about the study’s claims that the Chicago Transit Authority’s services will be used by many casino customers to get to the temporary casino site in the region, rather than driving, despite rising crime rates in the area.

According to media reports, River North is already a busy part of the city of Chicago, even before the planned temporary casino starts operation as soon as the summer of 2023. The potential increase in traffic once the casino gets up and running has required an independent review of the traffic study that Bally’s rolled out and funded.

As previously reported by CasinoGamesPro, the temporary Bally’s casino is set to occupy the vacant site of the Medinah Temple in River North, which was part of the mayor’s casino plan and was considered a major victory for Friedman Properties, which currently owns the building.

Public Safety Concerns amid Rising Crime Rates Trigger Opposition to River North’s Temporary Casino Project

In March 2022, Albert Friedman, a River North developer, made a $6,000 donation to the campaign of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, on the same day she narrowed the number of casino bids from five to three.

At the time, some project opponents raised some public safety concerns about the location chosen by the mayor to host the temporary casino for months, as the crime rates in the neighborhood were reported to have been on the rise. Now, the concerns are mostly focused on the road, as campaigners have been willing to get some proof that the establishment of the temporary casino won’t create traffic jams in River North. No traffic study had been conducted by the city before the Medinah Temple location was chosen.

Now, Alderman Brendan Reilly is opposed to both the temporary casino in River North and the permanent casino location in the neighboring 27th Ward. He has called the competent authorities to take a closer look at the project and carefully review the traffic study. According to Mr. Reilly, an independent third-party review has to be carried out, with careful consideration of the data and objective questions being asked about the way that data had been applied.

According to the results of the study, 40% of the people traveling to the River North area will walk or will use a bike or the Chicago Transit Authority services. However, with the current state of the CTA and the increase registered in violent crime rates, Alderman Brendan Reilly remains concerned about customers’ safety. Parking has also been a much-discussed topic because the Medina Temple building does not have its own garage, while the temporary casino that is expected to start operation next summer determined that 500 parking spaces will be necessary for the casino.