A study is underway to examine the impacts of a casino on traffic in and around Schoolfield, where Caesars Entertainment plans to build and operate a casino resort.
The study, which began in mid-June, is being conducted by EPR, PC in Charlottesville at a cost of $27,500.
The traffic impact assessment’s purpose is to understand changes in traffic flows that could result from redevelopment at Schoolfield and help the city plan for possible transportation projects, said city engineer Brian Dunevant.
“The study should assist the city with planning for future transportation investment needs and improvements around and near the site,” he said.
The assessment will focus on intersections along West Main Street and Memorial Drive adjacent to the Schoolfield site and Memorial Drive and West Main corridors leading to the property.
EPR will use projected casino attendance figures to determine what changes to the roads, if any, would be necessary, said Danville Public Works Director Rick Drazenovich.
“When they know those numbers, they’ll determine the improvements that need to be made,” he said.
Schoolfield is significant as one of the largest textile mill villages in Virginia and the South. The village was founded as an independent company town in 1903 by Dan River Inc., which owned all the houses and other buildings in the town. The city of Danville annexed Schoolfield in 1951.
The industrial site in Schoolfield covers about 85 acres and roughly 700,000 square feet of structures, including the 617,000-square-foot former finishing plant, which can be seen from West Main Street in Schoolfield.
The study should be complete by the end of the year.
Messages left at EPR’s office in Charlottesville were not returned by deadline Wednesday.
With such a major change to the area expected from a possible casino, having the study done is important so city officials can understand how to allocate capital funds, Drazenovich said.
City officials were unsure if a casino and other added development in the Schoolfield area would result in widening the roadways there.
“It’s really hard to say if that would happen,” said Danville City Manager Ken Larking. “It [the study] will provide recommendations on what would have to be done to improve traffic flow.”
The study calls for estimates of costs for any work it recommends.
“The completed study will indicate any recommended improvements and the recommendations will then be evaluated,” Dunevant said.
If Danville voters approve a casino at the ballot box in November, the Paradise, Nevada-based Caesars Entertainment would be expected to invest more than $400 million and create 1,300 jobs with competitive benefits packages and average pay between $35,000 and $47,000 annually, officials announced.
Caesars Entertainment, based in Paradise, Nevada, plans to build a facility with 500 hotel rooms, a 35,000-square-foot conference center, a 2,500-seat live entertainment venue, restaurants and bars, 2,000 slot machines, 75 table games, 16 poker tables and a sportsbook to wager on various sports competitions.
The project is expected to be complete in 2023 and is anticipated to generate 900 construction jobs.