Kentucky Speedway to increase parking

Traffic Jam headed to Kentucky Speedway on Saturday, July 9
Traffic Jam headed to Kentucky Speedway on Saturday, July 9
Source: Kentucky Speedway
Source: Kentucky Speedway
Source: Kentucky Speedway
Source: Kentucky Speedway

SPARTA, KY (FOX19) - The Kentucky Speedway has announced traffic improvements after a gridlock marred its premiere Sprint Cup race.

Speedway Motorsports Inc. has acquired a 143-acre parcel of land that will be used to expand parking. They will also hire professional parking and engineering services to manage automotive and pedestrian traffic flows during events.

Because of the actions taken by the Speedway, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) pledged to improve surrounding highways to allow faster access to expanded parking areas.

"We learned meaningful lessons during our inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekend and we committed that the traffic congestion that occurred on race day would not happen again," said Mark Simendinger, General Manager of Kentucky Speedway. "It was important for us to act quickly and I am thrilled to report this solution, which was formed in only seven short weeks."

The expansive parcel is located east of the 107,000 capacity facility and state Highway 35. It's expected to increase available event parking by 35 percent.

The Speedway will further improve its parking operation by reinforcing all areas with gravel and painting guidelines to help maximize available space.

The Speedway was criticized when thousands of fans didn't make in to the Quaker State 400 in July because they were stuck in traffic.

Veteran's Security and Patrol Co., which has extensive experience managing parking during events at prominent motorsports venues such as Daytona International Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Watkins Glen International, will begin servicing the speedway in October. Kentucky Speedway will additionally retain the services of a traffic engineering company that will employ sophisticated modeling techniques to assimilate the new improvements with existing infrastructure to create the best possible traffic management plan.

SMI will invest an estimated $7.5 million in its service and parking improvements. The company has already begun engineering the newly-acquired land.

"Kentucky Speedway is a premier destination for the country's best racing, and it's clear that tens of thousands of people want to be right here to experience those events," said Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear. "The NASCAR race weekend this July was a huge success, but it did experience traffic problems, caused largely by inadequate parking.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) complemented the SMI commitments by approving several enhancements to existing infrastructure that will assist in moving traffic more quickly during future race events. Enhancements will:

  • Improve the Interstate 71 Exit 57 southbound ramp shoulder to allow three lanes of traffic to exit to KY 35 and directly access staggered speedway entrances during event days;
  • Improve nearly one mile of KY 35 from the I-71 interchange. Approximately 0.6 of a mile of KY 35 will be widened to five lanes with two full width shoulders to better service two primary speedway access roads and improve daily traffic flow to Warsaw;
  • Construct a tunnel beneath state KY 35 to safely and efficiently route pedestrian traffic to shuttles  which transport fans to speedway gates.

The Cabinet will support the $3.6 million project with its contingency fund, and plans to present the project for bid by the end of 2011 to ensure work will be complete before the summer of 2012.

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Copyright 2011 FOX19. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.