Council hears Formula One update, plan for added airport terminal

The Austin City Council received an update June 14 on the city's Formula One preparations, including plans for an added temporary international terminal for Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

Austin will host the 2012 Formula One United States Grand Prix on Nov. 18, which is expected to draw 120,000 fans—42,000 of whom are expected to arrive via international flights.

ABIA Executive Director Jim Smith said to accommodate the extra flights, a temporary facility to be used as an international terminal is planned.

He said it would remain for five years, as the Grand Prix will be held in Austin for the next 10 years. In the meantime, he said construction would begin on a permanent building.

There will also be additional customs and security in place to accommodate the crowds at the airport.

Fans are anticipated to begin arriving at the airport Nov. 15, and most race teams and fans are expected to depart Nov. 19.

Smith recommended local residents avoid the airport Nov. 19, if possible.

The site of the race will be the new Circuit of The Americas event center in Southeast Austin.

Rodney Gonzales of the city's economic growth and redevelopment office said the $400 million, 1,000-acre track was inspected in June by the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile race director.

He said the November race is estimated to generate $4.6 million through indirect and direct local revenue, and an estimated 189,874 total hotel room nights—the majority in Austin—are expected to be sold.

Gonzalez said Formula One partnered with 90 area hotels and joined Austin-based Hotels for Hope, which raises funds through hotel bookings for charities that benefit children.

Council also received updates on traffic and parking for the race.

Visitors without parking permits for the track's 17,000 parking spaces must take a shuttle, taxi, limousine or chartered bus.

Gonzalez said routes and locations for two park-and-ride locations have been finalized: The Travis County Exposition Center and Waterloo Park on 15th Street.

According to city staff, the driving distance approximately 9 miles from the airport and 14 miles from downtown. Additionally, there will be an estimated 72,500 patrons from both park-and-ride locations, and 538 buses will be utilized.

He also said there will be continuous monitoring of improvements to roadway leading to the track. In April, Travis County voted to share the cost of road renovations with F1. Travis County plans to work on three Del Valle thoroughfares: McAngus, Elroy and Kellam roads.

There will also be a bicycle route that ends at Richard Moya Park with direct shuttle service to the track.

Council will discuss the proposed temporary international terminal for the airport at its June 28 meeting.