Boston GP organizers face questions on noise, pollution, crowds

Boston GP Show Car
Boston GP Show Car

Grand Prix of Boston organizers faced questions Tuesday about noise, pollution, and three days of crowds expected to total about 170,000 as the City Council held a hearing about the IndyCar race planned for the Seaport over Labor Day weekend.

Race organizers outlined three months of road construction to build a 2.2-mile temporary street course around the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. They described a long weekend that will include fireworks, a job fair, and other events for military veterans, and a race with cars screaming around closed city streets at speeds up to 180 miles per hour.

Councilors peppered organizers with questions about security, public transportation, insurance, and how long it will take to return roads to regular traffic.

"The minute the last car crosses the finish line, the breakdown begins," said John Casey, the Grand Prix's chief financial officer. "Our engineers will start tearing down Congress and D streets. . . . By Tuesday morning, when people are coming in to work, you will never know we were there."

City Councilor Bill Linehan looked incredulous.

"You are going to be gone in that short of a period?" Linehan asked.

Casey responded: "We will be gone from those major roads."

City Councilor Matt O'Malley asked a question repeated throughout the hearing, which lasted more than three hours.

"Is there any scenario," O'Malley asked, "where any public money would be used?"

"Absolutely not," Casey said. "No chance at all."

Mayor Martin J. Walsh's chief of operations, Patrick Brophy, reiterated that pledge.

"No taxpayer money will be spent," Brophy said.

Organizers said by the end of April they plan to have negotiated agreements with the city, the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, and other government agencies. Boston Grand Prix must also obtain environmental permits before beginning construction.

At this point, Casey said obtaining those agreements and final permits are the only hurdles.

"Other than that, I don't see anything that could stop the race," Casey said.

Several Seaport residents cited noise and environmental concerns as they spoke against the race.

Other people testified in favor of the event.

City Council president Michelle Wu said the council will hold at least two more hearings on the Grand Prix to discuss environmental hazards and public safety.

City councilors are reviewing plans for the race, but their approval is not needed by organizers. Andrew Ryan/Boston Globe

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