NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The opening of the MGM National Harbor Resort and Casino Thursday night is expected to cause major traffic in and around Prince George’s County.
Even though 5,000 parking spaces are available at the parking garage, it won’t open until just 30 minutes before the casino’s 11 p.m. opening.
“The problem we are foreseeing is people lining up to get into the parking garage, which doesn’t open until 10:30, and we could see backups onto the Beltway, on 295,” said Jim Battagliese, WTOP’s director of traffic and transit operations.
Battagliese said all the new ramps and streets open around and within the MGM complex could cause additional confusion and delays, especially for people new to the area.
“There are already rectangular signs already erected on the Beltway, which will direct you into the area, but you have to pay attention,” Battagliese said. “If you’re going at freeway speed, you could blow right past these signs and not recognize them.”
Battagliese recommended that visitors head into the area early and park at National Harbor, or later, around 1 a.m., to avoid the predicted road congestion.
He said the best route to avoid the crush for northbound travelers is to take I-395 north past the Pentagon to I-295, or to continue around the Inner Loop of the Beltway, and head north on I-495 over the American Legion Bridge.
For those coming from southbound I-95, Battagliese recommended taking the Outer Loop of the Beltway around the American Legion Bridge.
National Harbor downtown parking
In the downtown National Harbor area, there are multiple parking garages and an 800 space surface lot.
Circulator Bus service has stops in downtown National Harbor on St. George Boulevard, Gaylord National, Tanger Outlets and MGM.
A $5 all-day pass allows unlimited service between 11 a.m. and 4 a.m.
“So, if you came down and had lunch and then took a boat ride and then come up and had dinner or saw a show at our place (MGM), then you decided to gamble and had a night cap — you’d still be able to catch the circulator back to where ever you parked your car,” Absher said.
Passes can bought at the Mariner Garage Circulator Shuttle Management Office, at some National Harbor retailers or purchased online.
Valet Parking At MGM
Valet rates at the MGM resort are $25 for up to 12 hours. Overnight valet parking will cost you $45. The valet parking entrance is the one closest to the hotel entrance, which is on MGM National Avenue.
MGM National Avenue runs south of the facility and is one-way eastbound as you drive away from the Potomac River up the hill toward Oxon Hill Road.
MGM parking initially will be free, but will eventually be “paid parking.”
A high-tech system will help drivers navigate eight floors of parking. Each level has seven lanes of spaces.
“As you’re driving [in], you’ll see a large monolith which will show you each level of the parking garage as well as how many open spaces are on each level,” said MGM National Harbor Executive Director of Hotel Operations Patrick Fisher.
At every decision point to either turn or proceed, drivers will be informed about how many spots are ahead.
“And, as you turn down a center drive aisle — green and red lights will indicate open available spots,” Fisher said.
It’s easy to get lost in some large parking garages, but Fisher is confident that won’t happen at MGM.
“Signage in the garage is very apparent — with different colors on every level as well as sectioned off on the poles,” Fisher said.
Metrobus service will have a stop at MGM National Harbor when it opens Absher said, with origin points from the Huntington Avenue Metro Station in Virginia and the Southern Avenue Metro Station in Maryland.
You also can access the area by boat.
The Potomac Riverboat Company provides shuttles between National Harbor and Alexandria, Virginia.
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