Excitement over the opening of the Ilani Casino Resort near La Center turned to frustration for many drivers Monday when they found themselves trapped in miles-long backups on Interstate 5.
Northbound traffic was backed up as far as the Interstate 5-Interstate 205 split — a distance of more than eight miles — within 90 minutes of the casino’s 10 a.m. opening time. Traffic was also clogged approaching the Cowlitz Reservation from the north.
The backups continued for hours as the casino’s parking lots reached their capacity, leaving motorists no place to go. The gridlock began to break up later Monday afternoon.
Emergency crews worked to set up reader boards to alert motorists of the parking situation and warning of the lengthy delays so they could make other travel decisions, said Washington State Department of Transportation spokesman Bart Treece.
“We’re working to try to manage it to keep people moving safely on the interstate,” he said.