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Austin circuit will be 'multi-functional', but faces traffic woes

The latest USGP venue could be beset by traffic problems in its early years, local councillors have warned.
The conceptual masterplan for the new United States Grand Prix circuit in Austin will see the racetrack complemented by additional visitor attractions designed to give the venue life beyond F1.

Among the proposals are a driving/riding experience and seminar building, motorsports driving club, kart track and welcome centre, which will all be built on the 900-acre site south-east of downtown Austin. The multi-use facility is being designed with year-round functionality and attractions in mind, and will be combined with sympathetic landscaping to create a visually attractive venue, all of which was revealed in the latest visual concept released by Full Throttle Promotions, the company behind the successful USGP bid.

The driving experience facility and racetrack will provide the ideal location for manufacturers to test, launch and educate dealers as well as consumers. The facility will feature classroom settings, virtual driving experiences and provide the opportunity for test-driving on the racetrack, streets and off-road courses.

The membership-only Motorsports Driving Club will serve as a luxury destination featuring an array of hospitality services and amenities. The club will offer its members professional instruction, customised driving courses, premium car store and concierge level services.

The outdoor karting track will be designed to provide an experience for drivers of all ages. The track, which will be open to the public, will specialise in orchestrating custom group events, team building programmes, celebratory events and fund-raisers, as well as individual experiences.

The proposed grandstands, temporary stands and natural seating areas created by integrating natural grass berms and picnic areas for families will enable over 120,000 to attend the United States Grand Prix in 2012.

However, despite the optimism of the visuals, local media report that the circuit could face traffic chaos on its F1 debut, having apparently failed to communicate with the local planning authorities ahead of its bid.

According to American Statesman, getting race fans out of the circuit within three hours of the grand prix finishing 'would take as much as $15m in major road improvements' - including widening FM 812 from two lanes to five and Elroy Road from two lanes to three - something that, even if the money is available to complete the work, would not be possible, construction-wise, before the race is due to take place. Instead, Travis County's transportation and natural resources department has said that it would focus on 'minor improvements to the existing system' and 'intensive traffic management' planning to cater for what it expects to be a sizeable crowd.

Full Throttle's attorney, Richard Suttle, has hinted that the promoter may be prepared to pay a part of the cost of revamping the road system, and revealed that it needed to have started earthworks at the circuit site itself by December if it is to make the 2012 race deadline.



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