Posted on October 4, 2012 at 10:30 AM
Tuesday, Oct 9 at 12:12 PM
AUSTIN -- Plans for downtown Austin during the Formula 1 race weekend have been unveiled.
On Thursday the Downtown Austin Alliance showed the plans to a room full of downtown businesses and residents. A panel full of representatives from the City of Austin, Formula 1, festival organizers, Capital Metro and the Austin Police Department released their plans and took in questions.
F1 officials said about 80 percent of the tickets sold for the November race went to out-of-towners. The City of Austin predicts an estimated 300,000 visitors will be in town. The crowds will flow in starting the weekend before and are expected to pick up on the Wednesday and Thursday before the race.
The group will spread out from the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) track in Elroy to downtown Austin. Several festivals are scheduled to provide entertainment to visitors and Austinites. It requires shutting down 28 square blocks of downtown. A schedule released on Thursday showed that the road closures will begin on Nov. 14 and will continue through race weekend.
Residents and business owners are worried about how people will manage to get around through the closures.
“If you close 28 square blocks of downtown Austin, and you want people to come down, and you've got all these music festivals going at the same time, where are the people who don't care about Formula 1 going to park when they come down here?” questioned Alan Pease.
To accommodate the closures, Capital Metro unveiled a map of route adjustments. It includes a free circulator bus which will run every 15 to 20 minutes. The agency is also expanding its rail service. For regular users of Cap Metro, bus stops will be adjusted. One hundred regularly-scheduled stops in downtown Austin will close race weekend.
Route 100 will travel to and from the airport every 15 minutes from Nov. 15 through Nov. 19 for $1 each way.
Cap Metro is also developing a phone app to help people manage routes and schedules.
COTA will run shuttles from downtown Austin to the racetrack.
The City of Austin also says it’s working with construction companies to alleviate closures that already exist due to current construction.
“What are they going to do about sidewalks that are totally blocked, sidewalks that are not lit that you will trip if you've never been down that sidewalk?” said Teala Hurly who lives and works downtown.
Residents are urged to keep up with scheduled road closures. Many downtown roads will be closed that weekend. You can keep up with plans by the City of Austin on it's website, austintexas.gov/grandprix
The Austin Police Department is also gearing up for the crowds in order to help visitors navigate through closures. APD is planning to step up patrol units during the race. The department will add an extra 200 officers on the streets nightly during the race.
The department is also planning to set up a temporary sub-station on Congress Avenue. The exact location hasn’t been determined, but an APD spokesperson says the temporary station may go into a store front centered near the site of two downtown-based race festivals, so that people who have questions or concerns can get help.
The Formula 1 US Grand Prix is scheduled for Nov. 16-18.
Here are other Web tools to keep you mobile during F1.
And remember, you can use KVUE.com's ParkMe map to find parking downtown.