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Schenectady Expecting Thousands To Show Up For Rivers Casino Opening Wednesday

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WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas
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Ever since crews broke ground on the old Alco site last spring, the burgeoning Rivers Casino has been in the headlines.  Schenectady is bracing for an influx of visitors for Wednesday's grand opening...

Rivers Casino and Resort is expected to attract 2.8 million visitors a year, and it all starts this week. The $330 million gaming hall will likely host a record number of visitors on opening day. Authorities say they are ready. Schenectady Police Sergeant Matt Dearing expects a flood of pedestrian and vehicle traffic in and around the casino area.  "We actually put out a public service announcement last week, directing individuals who are going to be coming to the casino, depending upon where they are coming from, which route we'd like them to enter the casino site through."

New York DOT spokesman Bryan Viggiani says I-890 can easily accommodate motorists taking the highway to the Rivers. "In November we finished a $4.6 million project to re-configure the I-890 Exit 4 interchange there. We had two circles there, the big circle and the little circle, it was sort of an exit loop inside a larger loop. It was built in the sixties and really was appropriate for the travel pattern at that time when, you know, the commuting patterns were a little bit different, and since that time, obviously, the community college has expanded greatly, travel patterns have increased, you know we've had sort of a more than half a century change from folks moving out of the cities largely, and then out into the suburbs. So traffic patterns have changed and obviously folks still come back into the cities but traffic patterns have changed in the last half-century or more, so it was time to re-configure that interchange and all the comments and information we've got is that interchange works great and folks are very happy with it."

Police are encouraging pedestrians to completely avoid crossing already-busy Erie Boulevard.  "There is one crosswalk near the casino site, that's it. Due to the large increase in traffic, we would just ask, for everyone's safety, that they do not attempt to cross Erie Boulevard, and if they must, if they absolutely have to, then to use obviously the one crosswalk that is in place near the casino site. Erie Boulevard is a long road and there are several crosswalks for its entirety, but near the casino site there's actually only one."

It's expected that by later this year, when condos, apartments and townhouses become occupied in the adjoining Mohawk Harbor complex, traffic will have calmed into a more predictable pattern as people become accustomed to driving through that part of downtown. Meantime, extra shifts of officers will be in the vicinity the next several days, helping direct traffic and looking for any potential trouble spots.

The casino opens at noon Wednesday.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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