Paving starts for key road for F1 traffic
On Friday — just two weeks before Austin’s inaugural Formula One race weekend — workers began paving a new, three-lane road that will be key to traffic management for the race.
“It’s critical, absolutely,” said Mike Gabel, engineering project manager for Carlson, Brigance & Doering. “Failure is not an option.”
Gabel is overseeing a .6-mile extension of Kellam Road to connect it with Pearce Lane and Circuit of The Americas’ main boulevard at the north end of track. Although the circuit has contingency traffic plans if the extension is not completed in time, circuit officials have previously estimated that the road could cut traffic delays significantly.
As many as 120,000 fans could attend the United States Grand Prix on Nov. 18.
Currently the roads leading to the circuit are FM 812 to the south, which has recently been re-striped to four lanes, and McAngus and Elroy roads, both two lanes. To extend little-used Kellam, the circuit acquired about 200 acres of private land north of the track and purchased 6.4 acres of a 657-acre tract owned by the state’s General Land Office.
Gabel said the project was scheduled for 90 days but paving could not begin until various utility issues were resolved.
“The pace is picking up pretty rapidly,” Gabel said.
He said 10 crews from four different construction companies are now working from sunup to sundown, seven days a week.
“It’s kind of like herding kittens,” Gabel said as he snaked his way through the construction site, dodging the heavy machinery. Workers began paving the entrance at Pearce Lane first and will soon start paving from Elroy Rd., working their way toward the middle, where a lot of dirt is still being moved.
When completed, the stretch will include four ponds. Kellam will also have a sidewalk — a rarity near the track — but it will not be used for the first race.
Gabel said, “There is still plenty of work to be done, however, everything is in place to move traffic by race day, despite how it may look. Some still doubt, but I’m confident about my schedule to complete on time.”