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The Nevada Independent

As race nears, Clark County Commission grills F1 organizers over traffic, logistics

Race organizers said plans to get employees to Strip casinos still have yet to be finalized, but could include the monorail or shuttles.
Jacob Solis
Jacob Solis
EconomyFormula 1Local Government
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With 75 days left before Formula One descends on Las Vegas, Clark County commissioners peppered race organizers with questions over how tens of thousands of employees will get in and out of Strip casinos ringing the 3.8 mile-long circuit for not just the three days of the grand prix weekend, but the days surrounding the event, too.

F1 organizers have touted temporary traffic solutions, including the use of temporary bridges over a major intersection. But Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick (D-Las Vegas) pressed grand prix officials during a commission meeting Tuesday to explain how resort and casino employees would be able to access the back ends of major Strip properties. 

“[Employees] cannot walk two miles and then go do their job for eight hours, stand on the hard floor and then walk two miles to get to their car,” Kirkpatrick said. “So where are they expected to travel?”

Terry Miller, racecourse project manager from Miller Project Management, told Kirkpatrick that race organizers will meet with representatives of Strip properties tomorrow and will continue meetings weekly to determine logistical plans for employees. The company is overseeing the construction of F1 facilities, including a sprawling $500 million paddock building.

Miller said such plans are still being finalized, and identified potentially using the Las Vegas Monorail, remote parking and shuttle services as a fix. Still, he quibbled with Kirkpatrick’s characterization that the race would “close” the Strip for a full week because, he said, public roads would still be open when cars were not racing and the track is not “hot.”

“We're not closing the Strip for seven days — we’re certainly impacting the Strip,” Miller said, before Kirkpatrick interjected.

“You might as well,” she said. “Would have been easier.” 

November’s race will mark the first F1 race in Las Vegas since the early 1980s, and comes as the sport has sought to appeal to a broader American audience under the ownership of U.S.-based media conglomerate Liberty Media. 

The Las Vegas Grand Prix will be the third U.S.-based race, following races in Miami, Florida, and Austin, Texas — more than any other country (the next closest, Italy, holds two races, while no other country holds more than one). 

Tuesday’s meeting also marked just the latest criticism from Kirkpatrick of the coming race, after she bristled in a June meeting over an apparent lack of information from race organizers over logistics. 

“Nobody has shown us what the plan is … my constituents are tired of not knowing what’s going on,” she said at the time.  

Race organizers also provided new information on the planned closure of the intersection of Flamingo Road and Koval Lane for the 10-day-long installation of a temporary bridge that will allow emergency traffic inside the circuit during the race. 

A key part of the race’s traffic management plan already touted by grand prix officials, the bridge installation will also add to a monthslong traffic headache for Las Vegas drivers in and around the resort corridor. 

In order to construct that bridge, the intersection will close for five of those days sometime within the window of Oct. 15-25 (with the window still to be determined by the county’s Department of Public Works through the permitting process). After that period, the bridge will remain open for public use until the race, at which point traffic in and out of the circuit will be restricted. 

Repaving on large swaths of the Strip has stretched across more than five months and is expected to continue into early October as paving continues on sections of Koval Lane, roads near the Sphere and parts of the F1-owned paddock property. 

The erection of additional temporary race facilities is also set to begin in October and run through early November, including the installation of trackside barriers, marshal facilities, fencing and lighting fixtures. The coming temporary facilities have already started to reshape the visual landscape of the Strip — the Bellagio reportedly began removing Strip-facing trees on its property this week. 

Organizers also told the commission that trackside grandstands and ticketed attendance areas will hold up to 105,000 attendees. 

Separately, organizers told the board they may also consider changing the name of the race’s paddock, the pit lane garages, team facilities and other buildings that normally comprise the backend of any race weekend. Though it is a traditional term used across motorsports, its use in Las Vegas has drawn allusions to the name of the October 1 mass shooter, Stephen Paddock. 

"Formula 1 knows there's a lot of sensitivity in our community." Stephanie Allen, one of the race officials, told the commission.

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