Traffic, security costs to ramp up with National Harbor casino opening

The MGM National Harbor casino and resort opens Dec. 8, 2016. (Courtesy MGM)
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker jokes that when the MGM casino opens at National Harbor in December, his neighbors in Northern Virginia will have a nice view and that “a few people might show up.”

In reality, the grand opening of the long-awaited casino is expected to generate so much traffic that up to 200 Prince George’s County police officers will be available to help control the traffic flow and provide public safety.

Baker, who lobbied hard to get the casino at National Harbor, says there’s no doubt that the county will be on the hook for some of the expenses associated with police overtime — the casino is a 24/7 hour operation — but he says in the long run, the cost will be worth it. Still, he can’t pinpoint what the cost to taxpayers will be yet.

“That’s just the honest truth. We can estimate what the crowds will be like, but until that happens, we won’t really know,” Baker said.

Coverage from Prince George’s County police is expected to include the use of a helicopter, as well as traffic control around the National Harbor site.

“We’re still working on the cost of it,” Baker said, referring to the county’s contribution for traffic control and policing.

“We need people to be able to get in, to feel safe, and then be able to leave, and so we’re going to do what we can [to make that run smoothly],” he said.

Baker spoke at the dedication of the new NH2 Metro bus service that will provide transit between Alexandria and National Harbor. Service will start Sunday, Oct. 23.

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Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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