Race weekend traffic initiatives go according to plan


by MORGAN CHESKY / KVUE News and Photojournalist ROBERT MCMURREY


Posted on November 19, 2012 at 8:40 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 19 at 8:46 AM

AUSTIN -- It was the final test for more than just Formula 1's drivers. Sunday's race promised the biggest crowds and strain on Austin roads over the weekend.

Cars stretched for nearly a mile outside the Travis County Expo Center Sunday morning. At the park and ride location, the strategy stayed the same. More than 400 shuttles were used to ferry nearly 20,000 fans. Downtown, thousands more waited in line to head out to the track. Shuttle wait times varied, but transportation officials say drive time to the track from downtown averaged about half an hour.

Meanwhile just outside the track gates other visitors paid up to take advantage of makeshift parking lots.

"It's gone very well," said Round Rock visitor Joe Grubbs. "I think they planned it well, but I think they do need a little more work on the infrastructure."

The pop-up lots soon presented a problem. Too many pedestrians on clearly marked roads. Authorities gave warnings, but were visibly outnumbered. 

Once the race ended, the afternoon exodus began. Some visitors stopped for food, others headed to Fan Fest downtown or stayed put for a post race concert.

"You know it's not too bad considering how many people there are, that's the whole thing you have to realize," said visitor John Nolte. 

Racegoers weren't the only ones affected. Julian Winn never saw the race, but watched how it changed his Del Valle neighborhood.

"A five minute drive automatically became about a 45 minute drive with all the traffic and the police and all the road blocks," sighed Winn, who hopes lessons can be learned from F1's first weekend.

He calls the traffic issues an inconvenience, but says he's ready for the next time the high speed fun comes to town.

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