New Majestic entrance finally hits jackpot

2013-08-22T15:30:00Z 2013-08-22T17:26:05Z New Majestic entrance finally hits jackpotBy Keith Benman, (219) 933-3326

GARY | Majestic Star Casino should be getting a long-sought vehicle overpass and rebuilding of its entrance road sometime in 2014.

The Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission has included the project in its 2014-17 Transportation Improvement Plan, which is expected to be approved at its meeting next week.

The $9.38 million project would include the building of an overpass where vehicles currently have to go under a railroad viaduct and reconstruction of the roadway.

"This will do an awful lot for our patrons by giving them direct access to our garage and they will not have to navigate the viaduct," Majestic Star General Manager Craig Ghelfi said.

About 80 percent of the project cost will be paid for with federal funds administered by the Indiana Department of Transportation and the rest by the city of Gary, according to NIRPC's Transportation Improvement Plan project list.

Majestic Star operates two gaming boats moored in Buffington Harbor. The casinos are owned by Wayzata Investment Partners, of Minnesota.

Access to Buffington Harbor has long been a point of contention between the casino and the city, with previous casino owner Don Barden contending he was promised swift improvements to Buffington Harbor Drive more than a decade ago.

In November 2010, then-Mayor Rudy Clay and other local officials opened a dedicated exit ramp off of Cline Avenue for Buffington Harbor Drive, also a long-sought goal of Barden's.

The ramp was built with almost $2.6 million in state funds and $638,00 in city of Gary tax increment finance district funding.

The bid letting for the construction contract is scheduled for October, according to NIRPC.

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