BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – To head off the potential impacts of the full-scale Hard Rock Casino & Resort coming to Bristol, Virginia, a traffic study is underway and expected to be complete in the fall.

As part of their ongoing expansion plans, the city’s interim director of Community Development and Planning Jay Detrick told News Channel 11 that Hard Rock hired an independent traffic analysis firm to study Gate City Highway and its surrounding routes and create a new Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) of the area.

“The best way to describe the TIA is as a blueprint for construction,” Detrick said. “Just as an architect will submit plans for a building, the TIA will act as plans for future road and infrastructure improvements.”

While data collection was done before the opening of the Bristol Casino — the smaller gambling floor that is currently in operation — the full analysis that is slated for release in Fall 2022 will outline what the area should look like with a Hard Rock resort and casino in full swing.

The city’s biggest use for the study will be for grant applications, and Detrick said hard data like the upcoming TIA is key when asking for improvement funds in the future.

While waiting for the results, the city has already implemented several changes to smooth over traffic issues that may arise for casino guests.

  • The traffic light at Gate City Highway/Catherine Street was reactivated when the casino opened, and Detrick said plans for new traffic cameras and signal controllers are in the works at the intersection.
  • New signs directing drivers to the casino were installed along Gate City Highway.
  • The traffic light at the Gate City Highway/Osborne Street intersection now flashes to warn drivers of the increased traffic.

“As far as making additional changes,” Detrick said. “The City will continue to monitor traffic in the area and will make adjustments as needed.”

Since the route to the new casino is so close to Interstate 81, Detrick said the Virginia Department of Transportation will also receive the results of that analysis.

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