Bulldozers are running full-throttle at the Kentucky Speedway near Sparta as a new plan to improve parking at the track is being put into place in time for the second running of the Quaker State 400 next June 30.
I joined Speedway officials and others from state government earlier this week to announce the plan, which is designed to solve the backups that kept some fans from getting into the NASCAR’s inaugural Sprint Cup Series race last July.
The Speedway has bought 143 acres across from the track and is turning it into about 10,000 parking spaces. The track is also hiring parking and engineering professionals to manage both car and pedestrian traffic next year.
We appreciate the track’s demonstrated commitment to improving the fans’ experience, and consequently, the state is stepping up to make some changes that will help:
• One, widening the shoulder of the ramp from southbound 71 to Ky. 35 to allow three lanes of traffic to exit the interstate on race day.
• Two, widening about a mile of Ky. 35 leading up to the track, making it a five-lane road with full-width shoulders.
• And three, adding a tunnel under Ky. 35 to help pedestrians move more safely to and from the Speedway.
The improvements will help not only race days at the track – which is a significant part of Kentucky’s tourist economy and has a huge economic impact on our local businesses – but also residents and businesses of Gallatin County.
The cost is about $3.6 million and will be paid out of the Transportation Cabinet’s contingency fund.
The plan is the culmination of a series of meetings we initiated with the track after the July race.
The bottom line is this event is extremely important to this state. We worked hard to attract the race to Kentucky, and we intend to help the Speedway make it a bigger and better event every year.