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City leaders reflect on lessons learned at Silverstone

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TWC News: City leaders reflect on lessons learned at Silverstone
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Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo is the last of five city leaders sent to learn from Silverstone.

Austin's top officials say their trip to the British Grand Prix gave them assurance that planning for November's race needs to be all-encompassing.

"I am certainly very thankful that I work for a city that understands the importance of not leaving safety, leaving the quality of an event to happenstance," Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said.

The delegation received its first lesson Friday when record rainfall brought traffic to a standstill for hours. Witnessing the snaking line of cars firsthand solidified the city's decision to bus about 72,000 fans to and from the track all three days of the U.S. Grand Prix.

On race day, delays returned as all traffic was funneled through one roundabout. It took many shuttle passengers more than three hours to get to their cars after the race.

"That confirmed once again that our planning for this event is right on track with regard to how shuttle is separated from vehicle traffic," Austin Economic Growth Deputy Rodney Gonzales said.

While at Silverstone Saturday, Chief Acevedo and event planner Rodney Gonzales got a behind the scenes tour of the medical center and realized how critical staffing it will be.

"They said that they performed one resuscitation on Friday. They can handle anything from a scrape, to a burn, to life-threatening injuries," Gonzales said.

Helicopter traffic was constant on race day, shuttling high profile fans between the track and nearby airport. Acevedo plans to alert air traffic controllers to prepare for busy skies.

"I really want to make sure that ABIA and the air traffic control folks here don't get surprised by the amount of helicopter traffic. We are planning on having a lot of helicopter traffic,” he said. “But until you actually see that thing in motion, it's a sight to behold."

U.S. Grand Prix planners will meet Friday to further discuss what city leaders learned from Silverstone.

The Regional Formula One Planning Meeting will also focus on emergency operations plans for November's race.

Watch the full press conference with Chief Acevedo and Rodney Gonzales when they arrived back in Austin Tuesday in the video below:

TWC News: City leaders reflect on lessons learned at Silverstone
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