Northfield Village will add a couple of traffic lights to state Route 8 to handle the thousands of new motorists expected when the Hard Rock Rocksino opens later this year.
Lights will be added at Vincent Avenue and Filly Lane, both of which empty onto Route 8 (Northfield Road) across from the Northfield Park harness track, where the racino is being built.
Also, the signal at Sagamore Road will be replaced.
All of the signals will include left-turn arrows for southbound traffic to enter the Northfield Park parking lot.
Village Engineer Richard Wasosky said the signals will be bid out next month and should be installed by November.
“The big delay is getting those mast arm poles. They take a long time to get. You don’t walk into Home Depot and get one of these things,” he said.
Wasosky said he has confidence that the new lights will keep the cars moving smoothly through the busy stretch.
“The traffic studies done show state Route 8 will operate at a good level of service, and we’ll be able to get people off the side streets,” he said.
The stretch of road currently carries about 17,000 cars a day. The racino, which will offer slots-like video lottery terminals, is expected to add about 3,000.
Wasosky said the area lost some traffic when the Ford Motor Stamping Plant, next door to the harness track, closed last year.
“But we’re gaining more than we lost,” he said.
The three signals will cost $485,000. The village will foot the cost upfront but will apply for tax increment financing (TIF) “to basically repay ourselves back,” Wasosky said. A TIF is a tax-sharing agreement that would net additional property tax for the village.
The village also is expecting two $1 million checks from the Casino Operator Settlement Fund, the first due in August, and the second about six months later.
Wasosky said that, by law, half of that money must be used on infrastructure, and Northfield already has planned to use part of it for sanitary sewers for the racino.
The rest of the money will be used to kick-start a plan that would “totally reconstruct” more than a dozen of the village’s 50-year-old streets every year.
When the money from the settlement fund runs out, the village will use the windfall expected in new income tax and property tax revenue from the racino as well as new restaurants, gas stations and other businesses expected to follow the increased traffic, Wasosky said.
“We’re looking forward to the racino,” Wasosky said. “We think its going to be a great addition to not only Northfield Village, but the entire area.”
The $285 million racino is expected to open in December.