ATLANTIC CITY-Steve Wynn wanted it, but he’s no longer in the casino business here. Donald Trump didn’t want it, once referring to it as “Steve Wynn’s private driveway.” But they gave The Donald his own ramp into his Trump Marina property, so now he wants it and is expected to be on hand today when local and state officials cut the ribbon for a new 2,200-foot tunnel. It’s the key component in the 2.3-mile-long Atlantic City/Brigantine Connector, designed to facilitate traffic flowing between this gaming mecca’s Boardwalk and Marina District, which contain all of its casinos.

Instead of clogging local streets, especially when major conventions are in town, traffic will use the route to move back and forth. It’s also expected to spark new growth in the once-isolated Marina District. Indeed, once it was clear that the tunnel would happen, several new properties were announced, most notably Boyd Gaming’s and MGM Mirage’s $1-billion Borgata.

The project remains controversial. Concerns include displacement of residents to make way for the tunnel and connector, as well as environmental concerns. It’s still the subject of a number of lawsuits, although because the connector is fact, compensation is the issue.

Today’s grand opening will be a day-long affair, including a two-mile “Connector Walk”, entertainment and the requisite ceremony. As far as the $330-million price tag, $220 million is coming from three state agencies–the DOT, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and the South Jersey Transportation Authority. The rest is coming from MGM Mirage which, after it bought out Steve Wynn, stuck to its pledge to pay $110 million.

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