At last count, Austin had a population of 790, 390, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Next week, expect that to grow by up to 300,000 as Formula One racing at the new Circuit of the Americas racetrack in Southeast Austin draws visitors from around the world. As many as 120,000 of them will go to the track in person for the Nov. 16-18 races.
Austin roads will see a huge influx of rental cars, limos and taxis. Give yourself plenty of time to commute next week, and check event maps to plan your route around road closures, bus route changes and other surprises.
Traffic hot spots: Expect heavy traffic downtown and on East Riverside Drive, East Oltorf Street, Burleson Road, Interstate 35, Ben White Boulevard/Texas 71, U.S. 183 and Texas 130. See the Circuit of the Americas transportation page for information on park-and-ride shuttles and more.
Downtown: If you’re willing to brave the traffic and try the shuttles, there should be plenty of free activities for Austinites, but getting to work will be tricky. Twelve blocks will be closed to vehicles Nov. 14-19 for outdoor concerts and other events during Fan Fest. Capital Metro is offering free bus service in a loop around downtown Nov. 16-18, as well as expanded MetroRail service Nov. 17-18. See Cap Metro’s F1 page for maps, fares and detours. (Cap Metro says the downtown loop and 75 F1 shuttles will continue to run in the event of a possible bus drivers strike this week.)
Overhead: Two helicopter charter companies might fly over Burleson Heights up to 70 times a day as they ferry fans to the track from temporary helipads at Riverside Drive/Congress Avenue and at MoPac/Bee Cave Road.
Bicycles on Burleson Road: The city has designated a cycling route to the F1 races that will take bike commuters right through our neighborhood. City Council member Chris Riley and bicycle safety instructors will accompany several group rides that will depart City Hall at 8:30 a.m. Friday and 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Cyclists will probably arrive at Burleson about 20-40 minutes later. Also expect cyclists in the area on their return trips and throughout the weekend.
The route takes cyclists through the Country Club Creek pocket park that follows the large power lines between Pleasant Valley and Burleson roads. What’s tricky is that in order to enter the southbound bike lane on Burleson Road, they will need to cross Burleson Road under the power lines between Santa Monica Drive and Terrilance Drive, in between two curves with limited sight lines.
Please watch for cyclists in the area pictured here:
Volunteers needed: Want to welcome arriving cyclists and alert drivers that there will be more bikes on the road? Use the contact form or the neighborhood message boards to sign up for a neighborhood bike brigade near the pocket park on Friday, Saturday or Sunday morning.
Restaurants: Throngs of humanity will be just west of I-35, one of the reasons we’re glad we don’t have to cross it to reach our own fabulous restaurants! Some nearby are Patsy’s Cafe, Catfish Parlour, Vic’s Barbecue, 888 Vietnamese Restaurant, Java Noodles, Hai Ky, El Jacalito, El Mesón, Super Burrito and El Pollo Rico. Have another recommendation? Submit a comment to share.
For more information:
- ATX Grand Prix, the City of Austin F1 information page
- City’s F1 Bicycle Commuting Guide and bike/pedestrian Facebook page
- Learn how bikes and cars can safely share the road with these tips from Bicycling Magazine.
- Cap Metro and MetroRail F1 transit
- Formula 1 international site and Austin’s Circuit of the Americas racetrack
- Austin Fan Fest schedules and map
- AustinRaceEvents.com, the unofficial F1 social guide
- F1 news from the Austin American-Statesman, including a comprehensive F1 transportation story on Sunday
- More transportation stories by the Statesman’s Ben Wear