Traffic was at a standstill in the area near The Hollywood Casino in Jamul on Monday following the casino's grand opening.
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) warned motorists of heavy traffic on the State Route 94 and State Route 54 junction, as well as between State Route 125 and Honey Springs Road. CHP officers were dispatched to the area to try and alleviate the traffic, which extended for several miles in all directions.
CHP issued an advisory to drivers to avoid Campo Road for the next six to eight hours.
Steele Canyon High School, located near the casino sent out a tweet warning students and staff of the traffic. According to Principal Don Hohimer, the school was heavily impacted by the casino opening--school buses could not get into the school Monday morning due to traffic.
“We’ve known this was coming for a long time and did everything we can to keep our young drivers safe,” Hohimer said. He added that the school has been consulting with students to be on alert for drunk drivers, especially with the upcoming Football game and Homecoming this Friday.
“We’ve already had a tough commute in the morning, so this is just making things worse," Hohimer said.
Frustrated parents waited in the long line of cars for hours to pick up their kids--a trip that usually took them minutes.
“Something that should take about a ten minute drive has taken an hour,” parent Laura Espinoza said.
Instead of sitting in her car for another hour of traffic, Espinoza said she pulled off Campo Road and waited for her son to walk the last mile to her.
“All the parents are having their kids walk all the way down the street on a dangerous road because we can't get to our kids,” she told NBC 7.
Richard St.Jean, General Manager for the casino, released a statement Monday evening regarding the traffic delays.
"High traffic volumes are common with grand openings, particularly with the excitement surrounding the newest and closest casino to downtown San Diego," St. Jean said.
The $490 million Hollywood Casino, located on Campo Road, has been at the center of a battle between the Jamul Indian Village of California and the Jamul Action Committee (JAC) for years. Despite an lawsuit filed by JAC against the casino, a grand opening ceremony was held on Monday.
According to Glenn Revell, President of JAC, the lawsuits alleges that the Jamul Indian Village of California is not a federally recognized tribe and the casino is not built entirely on reservation land. Revell also told NBC 7 that the JAC had concerns about traffic and safety on the State Route 94.
A ruling on the federal lawsuits against the casino is not expected for at least six months.