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Brace for traffic delays when casino opens, authorities warn

  • Graton Resort & Casino in Rohnert Park on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

Find another route.

That's a key bit of advice that authorities are dispensing as they brace for weeks of heavy traffic following the opening Tuesday of the Graton Resort & Casino.

The roads — especially Highway 101 — are likely to be rough going as many thousands of vehicles are added to the normal traffic mix as patrons travel to the $800 million casino just outside Rohnert Park.

Graton Resort & Casino

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“We're urging people to be patient, be patient, because you will be inconvenienced and you will be delayed,” said CHP Officer Jon Sloat.

The 3,000 slot machine casino will be open 24 hours a day and has been publicized for months with a multimillion dollar ad campaign. In one indicator of interest, more than 100,000 people are expected to sign up for player rewards cards by opening day, General Manager Joe Hasson said last month.

The CHP is one of several agencies deploying extra resources to manage the expected crush of traffic making its way to the Bay Area's largest casino. The Sheriff's Office, Rohnert Park's public safety department and Petaluma police are also staffing up starting Tuesday.

“We've got a good plan,” said Brian Masterson, Rohnert Park public safety director.

Rohnert Park will have five additional officers on traffic duty and has contracted five CHP officers to help out on city streets. The CHP is rolling out 15 additional motorcycle and patrol units. The Sheriff's Office and Petaluma police are supplying extra manpower.

Officers are prepared to take measures including over-riding traffic lights and opening carpool lanes to all vehicles to assist traffic flow, Sloat said.

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