Thursday, October 02, 2014

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Fire officials rev up for the U.S. Grand Prix

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The first Formula 1 race in Central Texas won’t be held until November, but for fire crews, the clock is already ticking.

Thursday evening, the chief of Travis County Fire Rescue hosted an information night for community members at Creedmoor Elementary in Buda.

First responders have been working for the last 18 months to ensure the race won’t disturb service to those who already live in the area.

"What we would like to see is as little impact as possible," Travis County Fire Rescue Chief Ken Bailey said.

Connie Schriber has lived in the area for years, she is skeptical the planning will be enough to accommodate the worldly crowd.

"The roads are in disrepair now with just what’s driving on them now so you would figure if more people are going to be on it. It is going to be worse," she said.

According to officials, the population of the rural areas surrounding the Circuit of the Americas racetrack is expected to quadruple.

"As a result of that, we're going to have to add more people. We're going to have to add more apparatus to respond so that we close up that gap,” Bailey said. “It's time and distance. If we can't make up for one, then we have to make up for the other, so we can keep things fairly normal.”

While some worry about logistical concerns other see an opportunity in F1 racing.

"Well the biggest thing is Formula One is bringing water and waste water to Southeast Travis County which will spur other commercial growth." Track Neighbor Ron Wattinger

Travis County fire isn't making the effort alone; they're working with surrounding agencies to make sure everyone crosses the finish line safely.

Earlier this year, several high ranking Austin officials traveled to London to watch a Formula 1 race in person. During the British Grand Prix Austin, leaders understood the importance of a transportation plan.

Fire officials say handling traffic is crucial to allow emergency crews to navigate safely and efficiently.

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