AUSTIN (KXAN) - Gazing out across the final bit of construction at the Circuit of The Americas , Mike McLaughlin began to tally up the remaining supplies he will need for Formula One weekend.
"Plenty of barley drinks, couple of cokes, maybe a water for the wife," he said. "Lots of food, yeah. Just so we don't have to go out and spend four or five hours in traffic."
Just a couple of weeks away from the area's first U.S. Grand Prix race, McLaughlin is hunkering down and waiting for the worst of what will come from his new neighbor.
The site just southeast of Austin should expect 120,000 fans.
By the numbers
- 120,000: How many people the facility can hold
- 17,000: How many on-site parking places are available
- 81: How many football fields it would take to park the cars
- 450: How many shuttle buses assigned to the events
It is the biggest event anyone around here has seen. A good day at Austin's ACL Music Festival draws only 75,000 people. A University of Texas football game packs in just over 100,000.
The crowds will be bad enough, but consider the 17,000 cars parking at the CoTA site. It would take 81 UT football fields to make enough space for them all.
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If that is not enough, think about the 450 shuttle buses for the event. If you line them up one after the other, the shuttles will stretch nearly 3.5 miles. That is like starting at the State Capitol downtown and traveling south on Congress Avenue almost reaching U.S.Highway 290.
Those shuttle bus pick-ups will be the most congested areas. They will start just east of the Capitol and at the Travis County Expo Center east of town. The shuttles will travel down MLK Jr. Boulevard and State Highway 130 from the north.
Other race-related traffic will likely crowd SH from the south, U.S. State 183 and Interstate Highway 35.
"If you like to people watch and you like chaos, come down, watch it all," said David Greear, Travis County's traffic program manager. "But if you don't like that, then I suggest staying home or staying away."
County officials said to expect at least a three-hour delay on the way to the race, though that is a rough estimate. This race is their practice run.
"You never know with the future," said Greear. "I'm sure we'll make changes. We just don't know yet."
With F1's 10-year contract, there is plenty of time to adjust. So McLaughlin said he will wait a while, weighing his perfect view with the potential traffic nightmare this first year.
"I actually don't want to live through it," he laughed. "That's why we're going to just stay here and lock ourselves down."
Keep in mind, F1 is not alone at the site, as the massive crowds will continue beyond that one weekend. Right now, CoTA has deals with three other racing events: V8 Supercars, the Grand Am Series, and Moto GP. The site is also built to hold concerts and other festivities.
Officials have been working for two years on a plan to ease traffic in that area. They have repaved FM 812 and restriped it to better use contra-flow lanes. They have reconstructed and repaved McAngus Road, repaved Elroy Road, and CoTA is extending Kellam Road north of the site to Pierce Lane.
The map above shows the route to be taken by those wishing to bicycle to the events. Shuttle buses will take bikers from the end point to the track itself.
Late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, a light band of freezing drizzle traversed the I-35 corridor eastward. With sub-freezing temperatures, even the light precipitation created major problems.
A 10-year-old was killed while standing outside a vehicle after the child's family was involved in a fender bender, DPS said.
Austin Police are looking for a missing woman.
APD is responding to a 25 vehicle accident near the 5400 block of Ed Bluestein near Thurgood Ave.
A man is dead after being hit by several vehicles in the eastbound lane of Highway 71 Saturday night.
A representative at the Fayette County Sheriff's office said that Fayette County is effectively shut down due to icy conditions.