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La Center Residents React to New Casino

Ilani Casino Resort located near Salem, Oregon opened its doors last week, and along with that came a load of visitors who were interested in what the casino had to offer. Apart from the joy that came along with the casino’s opening also came a large amount of traffic, 8 miles of traffic to be exact.

At least through the first week or so, residents of La Center are mostly less than pleased that the casino is open. Not only did it cause traffic through the main thoroughfares in an around the city, it forced local residents off their normal commutes and onto back roads and other passageways that they might not be so familiar with.

First Impressions Are Everything

For the new Ilani Casino, the first impressions from local residents have not been so great. On the opening day, backup from the exit ramp along I-5 was backed up so severely that city officials decided to close the main thoroughfare through the city. Rather than letting people sit in traffic, city officials put up signs that directed people to use back roads and various other detours.

The decision was made to prevent an even larger backup of traffic, and the decision was made not too long after the casino had opened. The roadway was not officially closed, but had signs posted that urged people to avoid traveling further on I-5. Local residents, like Jennifer Miller, were not so happy about that decision. Speaking to The Columbian, she said, “It was blocked off. That seemed kind of wrong. It’s our road.”

While it may seem like city officials were entirely unprepared for the traffic backup, that was not the case. The city did have plans to deal with the increased traffic volume, however no one anticipated that the congestion would have gotten as bad as it got as quickly as it happened. All in all, it is being chalked up to bad planning, because regardless of whether plans were in place or not, the massive amount of traffic ended up seriously hindering the usual commutes of thousands.

Not Everyone is Disappointed in Wake of Casino’s Opening

Though La Center residents like Jennifer Miller were not too pleased with what happened on opening day, other residents are choosing to look at the bigger picture in a much more positive light. Chelsea Gaya also experienced the traffic that was a result of the casino’s opening, but she was not so displeased. While Gaya would have preferred to not sit in traffic, she viewed her longer commute that day as nothing more than a minor inconvenience. In general, she, and others, are pleased with how the casino’s construction has gone.

Instead of being overly upset about the traffic, other residents are pointing to interchange construction that is still ongoing. Had that construction been completed in time for the casino’s opening, the problems that presented themselves might not have ever existed. Looking to the future, the interchange construction’s completion will help alleviate any congestion stemming from casino traffic.

Ilani Casino and Resort is a massive project that is projected to bring in millions of dollars in annual revenue for the state and local community. So far, it is clear to see that things have gotten off to a rocky start, but in the week since all the congestion, traffic patterns have been mostly normal. Proving that the massive traffic backup was more than likely nothing more than a one-time situation.

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