LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – Formula 1 officials argue the extra work they’re performing beyond circuit repaving is why Clark County should cover half of its $80 million construction project.
As of Friday, holes in the ground covered by steel plates plague Koval Lane between Flamingo and Harmon and have narrowed traffic to one lane southbound. It’s the most recent traffic headache as construction crew members told 8 News Now on Friday that they are undergrounding electrical and communication lines that are currently above ground.
These utility improvements would typically be the responsibility of Clark County. As Las Vegas Grand Prix (LVGP) CEO Renee Wilm puts it, they’re doing it sooner, which provokes the traffic congestion now rather than later.
“That was a project that was going to happen anyway,” Wilm said outside the in-construction F1 Paddock Building last Friday. “It has been accelerated as a result of our project, but again, those inconveniences would have happened in any event.”
They’re improvements that would have started in two to four years, a Clark County representative confirmed to 8 News Now.
What F1 can do that Clark County cannot, according to Commissioner Chair Jim Gibson, is streamline the work “in a way that is meaningful.” “We began work on that before Formula One was in the picture,” Gibson said during Tuesday’s Clark County Board of Commissioners meeting. “The part that we’re not able to do is speed any of that up.”
It’s because the Grand Prix is allowed to do this work under a permit issued by the Clark County Public Works Department, according to a discussion during the meeting. If the department did it themselves, Gibson says there’s a governmental process that would far extend the timeframe F1 is doing it in.
“We’d have to have a design, we’d have to have a series of bids submitted, and then selection, and then a schedule and all the rest of it,” Gibson said. F1 did not and was not required to go through this bidding process.
He adds this utility improvement would have cost the county roughly $11 million in the coming years.
Now, months after utility improvement and repaving work began, F1 has asked the commissioners to pay for half of the $80 million project. Stephanie Allen, a representative of LVGP, argued there is a public benefit that lives on past the November race.
“There is a significant public purpose associated with the improvements, to Clark County’s roads, that you all will own after those improvements,” Allen told the board on Tuesday.
Regardless if the contribution is secured or not, the project manager for the circuit’s construction, Terry Miller, said the race will go on as scheduled. He notes Liberty Media Corporation, which owns Formula One, is paying for all the work being performed thus far.
Commissioners narrowly approved a public-private partnership Tuesday, which allows them to negotiate how many county dollars, if any, will be contributed. It does not obligate a contribution, and the total amount would have to pass the board again before it becomes final.
Discussion during the meeting indicated commissioners would not approve the $40 million ask. Gibson additionally said “other races” have expressed interest in using the Formula One track after the November race, which is why he’s “resolved the fact that there is some expense that is fair, that would be absorbed by the county.”
Koval, between Harmon and the MSG Sphere, is scheduled for repaving starting Sunday morning through Friday.
On Friday evening, The Las Vegas Grand Prix issued a statement to 8 News Now regarding the project.
With the help and support of the local utility agencies, we are relocating utility infrastructure such as water, power and data. These improvements will make it easier for the respective agencies to access their systems, avoid damaging the track surface and ensure the event activity doesn’t impede on their ability to service the valley.Las Vegas Grand Prix