The Wynn Resorts’ casino drama in Massachusetts continues.
This time, the casino operator received a nod from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation officials to continue with its plan of building the $1.7 billion casino in Everett.
In an Aug. 21 memo obtained by the Boston Globe, J. Lionel Lucien endorsed Wynn’s casino plan, saying, “We believe that no further environmental review need be required based on transportation issues.” Lucien is the manager of the Department of Transportation’s public-private development unit.
The memo puts the MassDOT at odds Attorney General Maura Healey who wants to delay giving Wynn the permit until it provides a “long-term traffic solution to address the projected traffic that will impact the surrounding areas when the integrated casino resort starts operating.
Despite the endorsement, Lucien acknowledged the concerns the city of Boston has over Wynn’s plans for Sullivan Square and Rutherford Avenue, as well as the potential traffic congestion in the city’s Charlestown neighborhood near ramps to Interstate 93. Lucien wrote that the department “will continue to work with” Wynn and “other interested stakeholders to address longer-term mitigation issues.”
Healey, a Charlestown resident, previously said that without a long-term plan in place for Rutherford Avenue and Sullivan Square, the state “simply may never solve the traffic problem.”
“This dangerous and congested set of roadways may be unfamiliar to many state residents, but it serves as a major regional transit hub and access point,” Healey said.
Lucien’s eight-page memo was forwarded to Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton, who is expected to announce his decision on Aug. 28, according to the Globe.
The casino operator needs the state environmental permit before it can start breaking ground on the project. The proposed Everett casino is slated to be one of the largest private developments in the state when it opens in 2018.
Last week, Wynn responded to Healey’s memo, saying the environmental process “requires that we mitigate our traffic impacts, not solve decades-long traffic issues which pre-date our project.”
The casino operator had already announced its plans to spend about $850 million in mitigation payments, transportation improvements and city taxes over the course of its 15-year casino license.
Of the total, Wynn said $210 million will go to community mitigation and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, while $206 million will be spent on transportation enhancements that will include an Orange Line subsidy, water transport and a shuttle with an additional $56- to $76 million in road infrastructure improvements.