The 1,500-acre venue has infuriated many of the same fans when they were caught up in the regular traffic jams that occur when thousands of vehicles are packed into rural roads in Travis County.

Traffic congestion over the Rolling Stones concert last year has created such a turmoil, creating new urgency for COTA to address traffic and disability access issues. Although there have been significant infrastructure improvements in the last few weeks, some of the biggest changes to the surrounding transportation infrastructure may still be years away.

‘Start Me Up’

(Andrea Cardenas)

For most accounts, The Rolling Stones hosted a great, well-made show if they could attend. Some concert attendees said KUT had very poor traffic and could not access the venue.

When the show was over, the problem continued.

“We arrived at this one parking lot and stayed there for about an hour and a half. It wasn’t moving at all,” said Andrea, a student at St. Edward’s University who attended the show with his father last November. Cardenas said.

“We were seeing people just sleeping or sitting at some sort of giving up gate because people couldn’t really get a (Uber or Lyft) ride,” he said. She said. “I don’t know if I want to go again in such a traffic situation.”

Her experience was not isolated.

COTA officials did not accept the accusations and apologize to the Rolling Stones fans in the only official statement about the blunder.Instead, of COTA statement He blamed the labor shortage for “turning a lot of traffic into turmoil” by an external dispatch company and the Waze app.

COTA’s defensive reaction made the fans even more angry. The anger was so visceral that it echoed in Austin’s Town Hall.

A few weeks after the concert, the city council leveraged COTA to request a quarterly meeting with the local government on the status of infrastructure upgrades around the venue. COTA must obtain city approval to apply for state subsidies Event Trust Fund Program..Attached to the council List of requirements To that permit.

“It was important to me that the city of Austin took action,” said Vanessa Fentes, a member of the city council that introduced the item and included the Circuit of the Americas in the district. .. “We have to think about the security of our community.”

first time Quarterly updatesIssued earlier than scheduled on March 4, COTA hired business consultant JL Powers & Associates to track local, state, and federal funds that could help pay for transportation and safety upgrades. I made it clear.

Even if it looks like it’s happening at a glacier pace, there’s some progress.

What has been fixed?

(Travis County)

The Circuit of the Americas is sourced from State Highway 130 on two roads, FM812 and Elroy Road.

Travis County just a few weeks ago finished Expanded Elroy Road from 2 lanes to 5 lanes (including the winding lane in the center). The project stretched about a mile west from the Circuit of the Americas Boulevard to the already widened section of Elroy Road connecting to the SH130.

FM812 is under the jurisdiction of TxDOT. The two-lane road will be widened to four lanes, but the Metropolitan Area Planning Organization’s regional transportation schedule does not allow contractors to even bid on the project until 2030.

Managed by CAMPO 22 panel You can vote to fund the project sooner, including members of the Austin City Council. Fuentes said he had discussed CAMPO with council colleagues about raising funds for FM 812.

“Power is in the hands of CAMPO,” she said.

Currently, there are no plans to add sidewalks or bike paths along the FM 812. TxDOT states that it can build a shared path for pedestrians and bicycles as part of the FM 812 widening project planned for the next decade.

However, a small, short-term effort to fix the FM812 will soon begin. TxDOT plans to repave and re-stripe section Of the road that adds a winding lane in the middle.

The $ 1.2 million project extends from FM973 west of SH130 to Elroy Road east of the Circuit of the Americas. According to TxDOT, the project is scheduled to start this month and will take about two months to complete.

In the long run, TxDOT plans to build a new segment of FM812 from FM973 to US Highway 183. But that’s an early stage.

Construction of the FM812 SH130 traffic light, one of the region’s busiest intersections for major events, is expected to begin later this year. Currently, the only blinking yellow light indicates that the driver needs to slow down and proceed with caution.

Another traffic light is under construction at Elroy Road and Circuit of the Americas Boulevard, according to a quarterly update from COTA to City Council.

Mobility issues within COTA

(Google Earth)

Among the 14,000 fans watching 78-year-old Mick Jagger pretending to be on stage at COTA’s Germania Insurance Amphitheater was a local tax officer.

Bruce Elfant has been a tax assessor and voter registrar in Travis County since 2012. That particular night he happened to be on crutches and recovered from a broken ankle.

Things didn’t go well.

On arrival, Elfant said the ADA accessibility tent near the gate was unmanned. Wheelchairs were not available. On the way back, Elfant had a hard time finding transportation to get back to his car on his crutches.

“I witnessed another disabled person who was visibly upset by being told not to return to the car until the venue was empty,” Elfant wrote. letter To Anna Panossian, COTA’s Chief Financial Officer.

Elfant said the lack of help at the venue forced him to walk on crutches more than the doctor allowed. His legs were severely swollen.

In a letter to Panosian, Elphant called for the creation of the Disabled Access Task Force. COTA I did exactly that, We have established a committee that includes two members: Elfant, Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, ADAPT, and the Austin Music Commission.

“It’s been a while, so this can get dark in a hurry, but I’m optimistic and I’m hoping for some good things to come out,” Elphant said. I told KUT.

The Task Force had its first meeting in early March and toured the COTA facility. Some members said they were encouraged by the attitude of the COTA staff.

“They took the problems they encountered really seriously,” said Austin Music Commissioner Oren Rosenthal. Told the committee At the last meeting in March. “They were embarrassed when we talked about the Rolling Stones concert. They said,” Don’t judge us at this Rolling Stones concert. “

“When it comes to PR, it really gave them black eyes, but just as an expert, they felt they did a bad job, and they take it very personally,” he said. Said.

COTA officials declined to request repeated interviews about this story.

How about CapMetro?

(Pavel Mezihorak / KUT)

Will public transport help solve some of these transportation problems around the Circuit of the Americas?

After the Rolling Stones snuff, a statement from COTA staff who tried to distract the accusations told the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, among other things, that local transport should “listen to the call” of local elected officials. I turned my finger. Transportation within the area.

Capital Metro officials were surprised to read the statement because COTA officials had not contacted transportation for assistance with the event.

According to Capital Metro, existing demand does not justify regular fixed-route services to Circuit of the Americas. service area..

Capital Metro says it doesn’t make sense to provide a shuttle service to COTA. Capital Metro receives a grant from the Federal Transportation Authority, so Strictly restricted From competition with a private chartered bus company that takes the group to COTA.

Would you like to ride a bicycle?

(Michael Minashi / KUT)

It’s theoretically possible to ride a bike from Austin to the Circuit of the Americas, but 14 miles from downtown, the infrastructure isn’t always friendly to cyclists.

Austin Night Tyler Mercum says “Bike nightThis takes place at COTA most Tuesdays, giving cyclists the opportunity to cruise the 3.41 mile racetrack. He took the bus as much as he could and cycled the rest of the road.

But going home to the East Riverside in the dark was more dangerous than he thought, especially for miles on the county road.

“There are some places where I had to bike on 50 and 60 miles of shoulderless roads,” said Markham. “I’m definitely getting a little bit of your life and trying to do it … I feel a car passing by a few feet away from you.”

TxDOT “does not have a current construction project for a shared-use pass,” the agency said. However, they may be built as part of the FM812 expansion project planned for the early 2030s.

Travis County’s new Elroy Road improvements include sidewalks and bike lanes.

Is there anything else I can do?

(Gabriel C. Perez / KUT)

In addition to improving the infrastructure, COTA organizers can have a “soft ending” after the concert. Small events and attractions give people a reason to get stuck rather than engrossed in their car, says Kara Kockelman, a professor of traffic engineering at UT Austin.

Last week, COTA announced plans to build a “large amusement park” with more than 30 rides and two large roller coasters.

Communication is also important. It would be helpful to use more electronic road signs to clearly anticipate traffic difficulties, to convey information about traffic flow and road closures, and to print warnings about potential travel issues in large font on tickets. She said.

“If people say,’Yes, I just read a book in the car and wait for it to pass,’ I think it’s useful,” she said.

However, there is no easy alternative to improved infrastructure.

“I don’t want to do anything other than drinks and sleep in the middle of the night,” Kockelman said. “It’s an exit for a few hours.”