USGP update: More questions from local officials

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Local officials in Texas still seem to have plenty of concerns about the plans for a track outside Austin, set to play host to the United States Grand Prix in 2012.

The Austin American-Statesman has the news:

In a four-page memo sent to Full Throttle, the planners peppered the promoter with questions about the 900-acre project. The breadth of the queries suggests the plan to bring the international race to Austin in two years is still some distance from satisfying the government bureaucrats who will need to sign off on it before any concrete is poured — an assessment confirmed by Joe Gieselman, executive director of the Travis County Transportation and Natural Resources Department.

“They’re getting there,” he said. “But they still have a way to go.”


Papers filed with the City of Austin indicate the company is also starting to get into some real expenses: Initial grading and the construction of a road through the site are estimated to cost $16 million. That’s still only a fraction of the estimated $200 million cost to complete the track and surrounding buildings.

The issues recently raised by the planning committee range from the picky — “If RV parking is anticipated, will utility hook-ups be provided?” — to the rubber-meets-the-road variety: “Has the applicant set aside funding and a schedule for improving off-site roadways?”


The multi-million-dollar question, of course, is who will wind up paying for the necessary upgrades. Gieselman said some possibilities are: Full Throttle alone; Full Throttle and the county and/or state together; or a special taxing district that might, say, levy a small tariff on admission tickets.


In the memo, government planners also had questions about the environment, ranging from ground-level concerns about underground gas lines and sediment control during construction, to more hypothetical what-ifs because of the site’s location in a floodplain:

“We have heard that there may be a significant amount of parking and camping in the floodplain during events held at the track. This area is prone to flash flooding … What type of evacuation plans have you prepared to ensure the safety of the campers?”

There’s more over at the Statesman.

Again, all of this is pretty typical of local development projects. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t represent significant hurdles for organizers to leap — and I don’t think anyone can honestly say that Full Throttle has proven it will be able to get past each and every one.

But that’s just me, being hysterical.


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