COTA tight-lipped on details after Rolling Stones concert causes Austin traffic headaches

Austin
Still image from a video showing traffic outside Saturday's Rolling Stone concert

(Image: Kristyn Booth)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Mary Ellen Roche has been attending Rolling Stones concerts since the 1960s, but the traffic leading in and out of Saturday’s show at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) was a first for her.

“That was just ridiculous, the other night,” Roche told KXAN. “There were too many cars on small country roads.”

Like many who have taken to social media, Roche said she and her family waited three hours in traffic, missing the first part of the concert.

COTA declined an interview Monday to discuss crowd size and to give any specifics about its statement released Sunday which blamed the backup on staffing shortages on the part of outside companies hired to provide “mobility services.” Officials also claimed a GPS app incorrectly told fans certain roads were closed when they were open.

COTA also called on elected officials and Capital Metro to help.

CapMetro told KXAN it was never contacted to provide shuttle services for the concert, adding it wouldn’t be able to anyway due to regulations that keep public transit entities that receive federal funding from competing against private charter companies.

Though you may see CapMetro buses utilized at events like the Austin City Limits Musical Festival and Austin FC matches, a spokesperson explained that is only because the transportation provider has established service to those parts of Austin.

District 2 City Council Member Vanessa Fuentes said roads and intersections in the area fall under the jurisdiction of different entities, including the city, Travis County, and the state. She said stakeholders have been meeting since the summer to come up with traffic and safety solutions near the track, with lighting in the area among some of the other concerns.

“There are improvements that are coming, but not soon enough,” Fuentes told KXAN Monday. “Elroy Road is being worked on, and [FM] 812 is slated for expansion.”

The council member added the FM 812 improvements are currently facing funding issues, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

A spokesperson for the Austin Transportation Department said COTA contracts with a planning and design engineering consultation group to create its traffic control plans.  The spokesperson said the group has a contract with the Travis County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) to execute the plans, and a copy is provided to the city.

As for Roche, she said she probably won’t be heading back to COTA for another big event.

“The infrastructure just isn’t there to support that kind of crowd,” she said.

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