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Press Democrat writer Jeremy Hay has his eye on the new Graton Resort & Casino in Rohnert Park, and has been reporting this week about its impact on traffic once it opens Nov. 5.

On Monday, he wrote that vehicle trips on Highway 101 could increase by 40,800 a day, according to a report prepared for the county by consultant Robert Marcucci.

That’s 42% more than 2012, when Caltrans reported 97,000 vehicle trips a day going both directions on Highway 101 south of Wilfred Avenue, the primary freeway exit for the casino.

“If that is the case, it would be a backup from Rohnert Park Expressway to Petaluma,” CHP Officer Jon Sloat said.

“Things are going to change; we understand that,” Public Safety Sgt. Aaron Johnson told the Rohnert Park City Council Tuesday night.

Rohnert Park officials are planning for the 340,000-square-foot casino’s opening day with:

*Congestion management plans.

*A host of new signs directing people to the casino and away from streets likely to back up with traffic.

*Contingency plans.

*Plans for “increasing levels of deployment.”

*A 38-foot mobile command center staffed with officials from three city departments and five other public safety agencies. “They’ll be there until they’re not needed,” Johnson said. When they leave, he said, “the new norm” will have become evident.

The city is widening Golf Course Drive West (formerly Wilfred Avenue) to provide access to the casino, construction paid for by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, the casino’s owner.

Marcucci, the consultant who prepared the report, said his numbers are based on an independent 2005 analysis of the Lytton Pomo tribe’s San Pablo Casino, which assumed that each of the facility’s slot machines generates 13.6 vehicle trips each weekday.

Read Hays’ stories here and here.

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