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Opening day crowds at Rivers Casino cause heavy traffic

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Opening day crowds at Rivers Casino cause heavy traffic

Boards along Eric Boulevard indicate full garage
Opening day crowds at Rivers Casino cause heavy traffic
A full parking lot on opening day at Rivers Casino in Schenectady on Feb. 8, 2017.
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER

Schenectady Police and Rivers Casino & Resort personnel were out in force along Erie Boulevard as they worked to direct heavy traffic on the casino’s opening day.

“We’re just trying to keep traffic flow as close to normal as possible,” Schenectady Police Sgt. Matt Dearing said.

RELATED: Rivers Casino officially opens in Schenectady

Rivers Casino opened at noon Wednesday. Thousands passed through its doors within the first few hours of operation, leading to packed parking lots and heavy traffic along Erie Boulevard. Schenectady Police reported no major issues as of Wednesday afternoon, but some patrons were forced to park and walk to the facility.

Between a three-story garage and surface lots, the casino has about 1,800 parking spaces available on site. In order to accommodate the expected opening day crowds, employees parked off-site Wednesday and were shuttled to the casino.

Even so, the building holds a capacity of 7,029 and was well on its way to hitting that number by 2 p.m. As a result, message boards along Erie Boulevard indicated that the garage was full and advised motorists to seek alternative parking options.

For some, that meant parking either downtown or near Union College, and then making the roughly half-mile walk to and from the casino.

“It’s not too bad since it’s not that cold out,” one woman said as she approached the casino.

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The lack of parking led to occasional traffic backups near the roundabout, as confused drivers slowed down or came to a complete stop to ask nearby officers about alternative routes and parking options.

Dearing said officers instructed drivers to find legal street parking, but advised that vehicles parked illegally would be ticketed or towed.

Some took advantage of CDTA bus service to the casino, which started Wednesday. A trolley is expected to run between downtown Schenectady and the casino later this year.

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