AUSTIN, Texas — After record-breaking attendance during the U.S. Grand Prix, KVUE received numerous emails from residents who live near the Circuit of the Americas saying they were left without cell or internet service and couldn't leave home because of the traffic.
On Monday afternoon, tranquility was restored at a farm just a few miles from COTA. However, Elizabeth Cunningham is still fuming about the impacts of the U.S. Grand Prix on the rural area.
"Every single day you had no access to your property, in or out, and also no cellphone reception, which means, you know, no emergency services, no texting, no anything whatsoever," said Elizabeth Cunningham.
This year, COTA expected the event to break its attendance record of 400,000 people.
"It's kind of a blatant disregard," said Cunningham.
To make it easier on attendees, organizers doubled the number of shuttle buses, running up to 600, and updated the route, which passed Cunningham's home all weekend.
"When it wasn't gridlock," said Cunningham, "it was just buses going, like, 60 mph."
Cunningham lives on Jacobson Road, which she said was already severely damaged.
"The parts of the road that were already sinking down are sinking down more, and the cracks that were already really, really big are bigger," said Cunningham.
She added, "It just seemed really selfish."
Just up the road in Del Valle in the Berdoll Farms neighborhood, Aida Ramirez had all the same complaints.
"It was hell," said Ramirez.
Ramirez said on Friday, her 12-minute drive home was two hours in F1 traffic.
"It is not OK for those people that say, 'Oh, just plan for it all, go out of town,'" said Ramirez. "No, I shouldn't have to plan not to need to leave my house because there's an event happening."
Ramirez said it didn't used to be this bad, but on top of larger events at COTA, this part of Travis County is booming with growth. Both women live in ZIP code 78617, which has seen a 31% increase in growth from 2011 to 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
"COTA should have their own entry; they have their own streets and leave our streets alone," said Ramirez.
Ramirez also said temporary changes were made to make traveling and life easier in the area that need to be long-term instead of just for large events.
"There was lighting at the intersection of Pierce and I-30," said Ramirez. "The lack of lighting in that intersection has caused a lot of accidents. They had sheriffs at every corner. They don't do that for us. They don't provide that type of safety for us and we live here and we pay taxes here."
The women also hope cell service can be improved in the area, especially during large events.
"Just more of an effort to at least care about the wellbeing of the people who are surrounding the racetrack," said Cunningham.
Travis County has plans to improve some of the roads around COTA, but as of now, it will take years. In the meantime, crews have made some small improvements like widening El Roy Road, which leads to COTA.
Regarding the lack of reliable internet, just Tuesday, Travis County commissioners approved spending $150,000 on a study to learn more about expanding connectivity for all.
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