City leaders formulate plans to avoid F1 gridlock
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After visiting the British Grand Prix, Austin city leaders learned a transportation plan is crucial to the success of the event. Now, city leaders are working to avoid race-day gridlock when the U.S. Grand Prix comes in November.
During Grand Prix weekends, Fridays are usually designated for practice. It’s a time when fans pack the stands to watch their favorite drivers get a feel for the track.
This year, Friday at the British Grand Prix was a traffic nightmare. Unseasonably rainy conditions and flooded campsites created a royal mess.
"I'd say leave early. Check your routes get the best route," Formula One fan Elliot Butterwick said.
Many heading to Silverstone Circuit said the best route was by foot.
"We parked our car further away down and then walked about a couple of miles to the track," Formula One fan Andrew Ardeyan said.
Traffic was so bad Austin city leaders were unable to reach the track. By days two and three, shuttle buses were moving thousands of fans into the circuit from nearby cities.
"Just imagine traffic stopped just stopped and people standing outside of their cars. That's what I saw," Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said.
In the coming months, city officials will release their plan to use shuttle buses at the Circuit of the Americas. In the United Kingdom, officials used double-decker buses to move back and forth from park-and-ride locations and the Silverstone Circuit.
Helicopters also play a large role in getting people to and from the circuit in England, and plans are in place to do the same thing in Austin.
"We're going to be limited to between 45 and 60 per hour, which if you think about it is one a minute," Charlie Bravo Charters spokesperson Rene Banglesdorf said.
For those willing to pay to avoid the traffic altogether, helicopters will fly from San Marcos and Austin Executive Airports.
British Motorsports fans have learned it takes planning and an early start to get to the race on time.
"You need to be creative in order to manage to get here. If you follow the normal road you'll be stuck," Formula One fan Carlos Goicalves said.
In Austin, F1 organizers say the key to success will be following their transportation plan. Less than 20,000 cars will be able to park at the Circuit of the Americas. Everyone else must arrive by shuttle, helicopter or bike.