With the Encore Boston Harbor casino set to open on Sunday, casino executives and city officials briefed the press on Wednesday with preparations for what's expected to be an onslaught of traffic for opening day, and going forward.
Traffic has been a major concern for nearby residents and local leaders.
The casino is sited between two already-notorious traffic snarls — Wellington Circle in Everett, and Sullivan Square, just across the Mystic River in Somerville.
Encore officials have said the casino could bring more than 1,000 extra cars per hour to nearby roadways at peak times.
Standing alongside casino executives, Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria extolled the various public and private transit options for getting to the casino and cautioned non-residents to avoid braving opening day by car.
“You know, you have to look at the Encore like you look at Boston Garden, Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium,” DeMaria said. “If you want to have a nice day on Sunday, don't drive.”
Everett police officials said that new, 24-hour parking restrictions are in place for the surrounding neighborhood and warned that visitors attempting to leave their vehicles on neighborhood streets will be ticketed.
Encore president Bob DeSalvio said the casino has been preparing for the traffic onslaught.
Traffic mitigation plans include a special traffic control center, extensive police details, private shuttles from transit-accessible sites, and extra precautions for opening day, including temporary restrictions on the Alford Street drawbridge, which will open only at scheduled times throughout the day on Sunday.
Still, he cautioned that there is only so much the casino can do.
“There’s gonna be traffic,” DeSalvio said.
“There was traffic long before we arrived on the scene. There will be traffic because there’s only so much you can do with that width of pavement,” DeSalvio said. He added, “But we've thrown everything at it … and we hope that we've been able to really mitigate all the additional traffic we've created."