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Brace for traffic delays when casino opens, authorities warn

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

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.

Graton Resort & Casino

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

Officers at a mobile command center at the city's public safety headquarters are to stage-manage traffic control tactics based upon instant updates from officers in the field. "We want to make sure we're communicating with all the public safety stakeholders so if we have an emergency situation, everyone knows what's going on," Masterson said.

"We should be able to get really good intel when we see those problems and we'll do what we can to try and mitigate those, but there's also the potential that we may not be able to do much with the traffic if it gridlocks," he said.

Although officials are citing a number of 10,000 additional vehicles, what actually will take place Tuesday morning — the casino's doors open at 10 a.m. — is unknown.

"We really have no idea at this point; it's just wait and see, really. But we're planning for the worst, absolute gridlock and how to mitigate that," said Sloat, whose agency has the lead role in the operation.

"We are using the same incident command system as we would for a natural or man-made disaster," he said.

(You can reach Staff Writer Jeremy Hay at 521-5212 or jeremy.hay@pressdemocrat.com.)


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