What casino traffic?

Five years ago, when the Massachusetts Gaming Commission awarded a license to a proposed casino on the banks of the Mystic River in Everett, traffic was one of the most pressing concerns.

The area was already heavily congested, and the conventional wisdom was that plunking a huge casino down near Sullivan Square would make matters much worse.

James McHugh, a former judge who served on the commission, said traffic was a very significant factor in the debate over the Wynn Resorts proposal in Everett. In fact, he voted to award the license to Mohegan Sun even though he thought Wynn had the better proposal because he was concerned the friction between Wynn and surrounding communities over traffic and other issues could prevent the casino from ever getting built. (see page 172 of transcript)

It almost looked like he was right. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh led the way, but Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone and Attorney General Maura Healey both grumbled about the traffic that would engulf the area. Eventually, they all came around or gave up, with Walsh signing a treaty of sorts with Steve Wynn.

And then a funny thing happened. With the politicians out of the way, traffic experts working for the state, the city of Boston, and Wynn Resorts put their heads together and came up with a traffic mitigation plan that appears to be working.

The Encore Boston Harbor casino has been open for three months, and traffic has not been a problem.

Everett Police Chief Steven Mazzie credits the road work in the area, most of it paid for by Wynn Resorts. And he says traffic has been manageable because visitors to the casino don’t tend to come during the regular morning and evening rush hours, so traffic in the area is spread out over the course of the day.

“The morning commute is the morning commute, it’s always been there. But it seems like it flows better,” Mazzie said. “Everyone I talk to, a lot of them say traffic has improved.”

The local Charlestown newspaper, the Patriot-Bridgereached the same conclusion. “Few could have predicted that Encore would open and there would barely be a blip on the screen of the traffic situation in Charlestown, but it has been the case.”

Robert DeSalvio, the president of Encore Boston Harbor, is singing the same tune. “We’ve had no traffic issues since opening,” he told the Gaming Commission on September 12. “The entire traffic plan has worked.”

McHugh, who lives in Charlestown, says he has to agree with the assessment that traffic is not a problem in and around Sullivan Square and may even be better than it was before the casino arrived. Still, McHugh doesn’t think the no vote he cast or the traffic concerns he raised five years ago were a mistake. Once the political infighting ended, he said, the search for solutions began.

“The focus on the traffic problem galvanized people,” he said. “Government works.”

BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

The Beacon Hill response to a litany of scandals plaguing the State Police? Crickets. (Boston Globe

Three vape shops sue Gov. Charlie Baker, alleging he overstepped his authority by banning vaping products for four months. But one allegation, that he usurped the authority of the Food and Drug Administration, may be tough to prove. (CommonWealth)

Sen. Adam Hinds of Pittsfield removes his name from legislation paving the way for horse-racing in Great Barrington after opposition grows to the proposal. (Berkshire Eagle)

Massachusetts customers will be automatically charged a sales tax from more online retailers starting today. (WBUR)

A payroll tax that is calibrated depending on each employer’s paid leave policies kicks in today, providing a funding source for the state’s forthcoming paid family and medical leave program. (WBUR) Some state officials are having taxpayers pick up the tab for their workers, but Gov. Charlie Baker, whose administration employs the most state employees, isn’t going that route, much to the dismay of the National Association of Government Employees. (State House News)

A Globe editorial largely praises the education funding bill, even though it says it would have been improved by stronger accountability measures. 

A Berkshire Eagle editorial calls for legislation that would subject the governor’s office, the Legislature, and the judiciary to the public records law.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

City Councilor Lydia Edwards is proposing reforms to Boston’s scandal-plagued Zoning Board of Appeal that would remove a slot designated for a representative of the real estate industry and require representation for affordable housing advocates. (Boston Herald)

Residents of the South End of Springfield say the relocation of a methadone clinic to their neighborhood has brought with it panhandlers, prostitutes, johns, and drug users. (MassLive)

Framingham School Committee member Gloria Pascual claims she was ousted from a subcommittee negotiating a new contract with custodians after voting against the superintendent’s new contract. The superintendent, Robert Tremblay, says the two actions are unrelated. (MetroWest Daily News)

A nonprofit food pantry and thrift shop in Brockton raised money for 18,000 free meals in September, its leaders say, by taking to social media for a new style of fundraising. (Brockton Enterprise) 

Family of the missing Berkley man whose boat capsized in Mount Hope Bay Saturday asked for the public’s help Monday in an ongoing search effort. (Herald News) 

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Attorney General William Barr sought the help of foreign intelligence officials in a Justice Department effort that President Trump hopes will discredit US intelligence reports of possible connections between his 2016 campaign to Russia. (Washington Post

US Rep. Katherine Clark says President Trump’s attacks on the whistleblower put the whistleblower and everyone who provided information to that US intelligence officer in danger. (WGBH

US Rep. Seth Moulton will propose new legislation to enhance interstate sharing of driver data in the wake of the scandal involving the state’s Registry of Motor Vehicles. (Boston Globe

A man linked to a mass sexual assault of indigenous people in Guatemala pleads guilty to illegal reentry into the United States. He was caught in Waltham. (MassLive)

ELECTIONS

Climate activists are rallying around Ed Markey — and are furious with Joe Kennedy for taking on an icon of their cause. (Boston Globe

Former Arizona senator Jeff Flake urges fellow Republicans to abandon Trump. (Washington Post)

Rich Parr breaks down Boston’s at-large city council preliminary election results, where Councilor Michelle Wu received support from nearly 60 percent of voters. (WBUR

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce is dialing up a campaign against new regulations Secretary of State Bill Galvin wants to put in place to oversee brokers who sell investments and also give investment advice. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

The Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, a small but fast-growing school catering primarily to students of color, is selling its South End home and using the proceeds to build a new campus in Dudley Square. (CommonWealth)

A female student allegedly sent Snapchat messages threatening to shoot up Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School in Haverhill. (Eagle-Tribune

Lynn School Committee members plan to start offering condoms, birth control, and emergency contraception to high school students, but first they plan to let parents weigh in. (Daily Item)

Chronic absenteeism in the Worcester Public Schools increased to 15.3 percent last year, a rate that was still down from the 16.9 percent high in 2016-2017. (Telegram & Gazette

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

A new report questions the evidence in support of a long-standing recommendation to eat less red meat, but it’s met with harsh criticism from researchers who say its conclusions are flawed. (New York Times

TRANSPORTATION 

E-bikes will be allowed where traditional bicycles are allowed on most parts of the Cape Cod National Seashore. (Cape Cod Times) 

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Asian American activists are protesting stepped-up moves by federal immigration authorities to deport Cambodians who have wracked up criminal convictions here. (Boston Herald)

Former Ipswich Education Foundation treasurer Kevin Murphy admitted he stole $283,650 from the non-profit and $48,400 from the estate of a Burlington woman, but he repaid the sums and avoided jail time. (Gloucester Daily Times

A 54-year-old Salem man who appears to be suffering from psychosis and paranoid delusions had a cache of weapons, syringes, antibiotics and rubber gloves stashed around his home, which police found after he told them he believed he was being stalked by a postal service truck. 

MEDIA

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reduces its print schedule to Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays. The rest of the week will be digital only. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Lewis Raven Wallace offers five tips for reporters covering trans and nonbinary people. (Columbia Journalism Review)