Austin track surrounded by flood waters

Even though it is two weeks away, widespread flooding in Central Texas could cause problems for the forthcoming United States Grand Prix in Austin.

Part of the Circuit of the Americas and some of the surrounding land lies on a flood plain and the "deluge" witnessed in recent days has clearly caused problems, even if it is (a la Silverstone) spectators who will likely suffer most.

"I passed the track, where there was some standing water in some of the fields," writes John Maher in the Statesman. "I didn't go inside the track, but the circuit's spokeswoman, Julie Loignon, said the track itself (which isn't in the flood plain) didn't have many problems.

"She said there was some water in Tunnel One, which has happened in other heavy rains, and that some parking lots were flooded. She said construction for the upcoming Formula One race would be affected, but it would not be anything serious. Given the obstacles the circuit had to overcome last year, when it was still rushing toward completion, even such a heavy rain shouldn't be that big of a deal.

"Outside of the track, however, there were problems," he continues. "Heading east toward Bastrop on FM 812 I made it only to Elroy Road, short of Wild Bubba's, before I ran into a roadblock. I was told Maha Creek was three and one-half feet deep where it was surging over the road. It's the second time in a year that I've seen that happen. I then planned to turn left on Elroy Road to check out the north side of the track, but was told Elroy was also closed. Water was running across that road near the track's north entrance.

"Eventually, I went north to Pearce Lane. Pearce Lane near the Texas 130 tollway was a swamp and closed. Driving east to the track on Pearce Lane was interesting because there was moving water about one or two feet below the road. Glad I didn't try to make that inspection while it was still raining in the early morning.

"At Pearce Lane and Kellam Road, Travis County commissioners have approved an estimated $15 million extension to Texas 71. I have asked various officials why it would cost that much to build a pretty straight road through flat ranch land. I was told it was because some of that area was in a flood plain and some significant engineering would be needed. Right they were. Thursday there was a river right where that extension would start at Pearce."

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