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No Racetrack Yet, But F1 is Financing Roads in Travis County

The site of a planned F1 racetrack in East Austin.
Photo courtesy of Full Throttle Productions.
The site of a planned F1 racetrack in East Austin.

A proposed Formula One racetrack southeast of Austin is not a done deal, but that hasn't stopped F1 from helping to fund upgrades to a road that would lead to the track.

Tuesday, Travis County Commissioners voted to accept $375,000 from Circuit of the Americas LLC, to use for improvements to FM 812. Those upgrades would prepare the road for heavier traffic on race days at the as-yet-unbuilt racetrack.

Before the vote, county commissioners were quick to point out that Travis County was serving as a "conduit" for the funds. The F1 proposal has become a hot button issue in Travis County and Austin politics.

"This is not uncommon in advanced funding agreements between us and TxDOT," Steve Manila, director of the County’s public works department, told the commissioners court. "When the developer driven enhancement or improvement to roadway is required, TxDOT will not contract directly with the developer. They will contract with the local authority which in this case is us [Travis County]."

Manila said the county will then pass that funding to TxDOT which will do the work.

In total, the upgrades to FM 812 are expected to cost $1.5 million. Manila told the commissioners court that upgrades to FM 812 would take about nine months to complete, but more road improvement will be necessary should the racetrack project move forward.

"This is just one element of what we hope to be a larger transportation plan they are working on." Manila said.

F1 is waiting to see if it will received state and City of Austin subsidies to build a racetrack in Southeastern Travis County. 

Mose Buchele focuses on energy and environmental reporting at KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @mosebuchele.