AUSTIN (KXAN) - No doubt, Formula One traffic will be bad next month.
Officials expect a delay of at least three hours. But a fresh stretch of highway running right by the track could be race weekend traffic's saving grace.
Decades in the making, State Highway 130 is now much closer to keeping its promise. Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin - Austin's former mayor, was an early supporter of the 89-mile super route between Georgetown and Seguin.
"(The highway) will be the spine for a lot of good activity in eastern Travis County," said Watson.
The lawmaker pushed this plan, as he and other leaders saw the potential for development and a way to ease traffic in the center of the city. Over the years, this area to the east of the city has seen a handful of large projects - like a new airport and now the Circuit of The Americas.
"It's not a coincidence that for a couple of decades, I have focused very seriously on how is it that we allow for good, quality development and the creation of jobs in Eastern Travis County, and that's a situation where I think two things came together," said Watson, who also helped make sure F1 was eligible for the state's coveted Major Events Trust Fund – money which organizers have requested.
Upwards of 120,000 people will attend the Grand Prix event, and much of that fan base will come from the south - Mexico and Latin America. The lower section of toll lanes - the fastest stretch in the nation - opened just a few weeks before the race.
"We'll make sure were have extra maintenance vehicles out there, in case anyone breaks down or has any kind of problems," said Chris Lippincott, spokesman for the SH 130 Concession.
Watson said now that the highway is here, attention should next focus to enhancing the main artery's connecting roads - a way to keep growing, as the traffic shows no signs of slowing down.
"(CoTA) wouldn't be able to go out there but for the fact that you had SH 130 and the access that it provides," he said.
It will also come in handy, as CoTA has booked three more races beyond F1 next year with nearly as many fans.
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