As of right now, that’s what county planners in Austin, Texas are forecasting for the return of Formula 1 to the United States.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, county planners who are working on the proposed F1 track outside of the Texas capitol have come up with a daunting figure about how long it will take fans to get into and out of the race:
Yep, half a day.
Planners working on the race track site plan reached that estimate after a field trip to Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, where it takes about three hours for fans to enter and exit the track, said Joe Gieselman, manager of Travis Countyâ€™s Transportation and Natural Resources Department. He added that the F1 calculation was reached by plugging in the number of anticipated attendees at the Austin event.
The 12-hour figure emerged during a county commissionerâ€™s court meeting Tuesday, during which Richard Suttle Jr., the attorney for promoter Full Throttle Productions, was peppered with questions from commissioners. Gieselman said the countyâ€™s delay-time estimate, as well as other pointed queries about who would pay for road improvements and how many jobs the project might create, served to highlight the countyâ€™s frustration over the paperwork submitted by Full Throttle â€” which is thus far so sketchy as to make plannersâ€™ jobs nearly impossible, he said.
Last week, Full Throttle submitted the first two parts of the site plan to county and city planners: one for grading the land, and the other for construction of a single road through the middle of the land. But Gieselman said his department needs a better idea of what the whole project will look like before it starts issuing approvals.
â€œMainly whatâ€™s lacking is the big picture and the context,â€ he said. â€œTheyâ€™re still at the PR level â€” still selling F1. But now letâ€™s talk about what we have to do to make it successful.â€
County officials also questioned Full Throttleâ€™s economic impact estimates. Full Throttle has calculated that the track project would employ 1,500-plus construction workers, another 1,200 workers during race weekends and 40 staffers year-round; and that F1 would generate $300 million annually in economic activity.
â€œMany of their statements have been made without any basis,â€ Gieselman said. â€œWhere is the study that shows thereâ€™s going to be all these jobs created?â€
At Tuesdayâ€™s meeting, County Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt also told Suttle she wanted to see a â€œhard number analysisâ€ on how Formula One racing has affected other communities economically.
This all seems like pretty typical early planning, although I will say it sounds like it might be going a bit better than I imagined in my worser-case scenarios. Perhaps the size and potential positive economic benefits have everyone extra focused. But from a “moving through the slow county government process” perspective, things seem — from a very outsider view, here — to be progressing. At least on this level. But that is a level that easily could stall plans.
Still, that 12-hour figure is eye-catching and a bit daunting. But better they figure it all out from the beginning so they can come up with workable solutions.
The Monza train and bus system, for instance, is pretty hectic, but last year it took me just a few hours each way. But three or four is a long ways from 12.
Anyone have a creative solution we should offer to the track promoters? Just lots of free Lone Star?