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Austin Officials Outline F1 Public Safety Plan

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 09:47 PM CDT

With just over a week until hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected to pour into Austin for the Formula One race, the first real signs of F1 hit the ground in Austin on Wednesday.

Race equipment landed at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport from Abu Dhabi early afternoon aboard a 747 around the same time public safety officials unveiled their plan for race week.

"I'm smiling because I'm ready," said Art Acevedo, Austin’s Police Chief, of the upcoming race.

Confidence was the prevailing mood from Acevedo and other area safety officials at the Emergency Operations Center on Wednesday during the press conference, as they unveiled their plans for F1 week. While the blueprint is more or less finalized, the cost is not.

"We don't have any numbers to talk about today,” said Marc Ott, Austin’s City Manager, when asked about the total. “But we certainly are keeping track."

When asked if the city has a ballpark figure they’ve been budgeting with, “I don't. I can just tell you that I don't think it's involved very much in the way of overtime expense. Police and fire and EMS are gonna be deploying in such a way that they're gonna minimize any impact in terms of overtime."

Ott and Travis County officials say they’ll strategically direct crews and stage equipment across the region, not just to save money, but also to keep normal response times.

"Absent a catastrophe, you will not notice a degradation of service of any of our public safety agencies," said Acevedo.   

Michael Hemby of the Travis County Sheriff’s Office says officials from federal agencies, including the FBI, DEA, and State Department, will join several state agencies in making their way to the five-county region.

"Probably the largest deployment of DPS troopers in the state coming to our region since the Bastrop fires," said Hemby.

The EOC will serve as the hub for the involved agencies, including the City’s Transportation Department, who says they’ll work closely alongside law enforcement and EMS, while also watching out for Austin drivers.

"We have a number of traffic cams coming on board this week that we'll be able to keep a closer watch where we can make changes to the signal system," said Robert Spillar, Austin’s Transportation Director.

Circuit of the Americas will cover security costs in and around the track, but taxpayers will pick up the tab for the rest.

"There will be a full tally of that cost post-event,” said Rodney Gonzales, Deputy Director of Austin’s Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Office. “We've asked all the departments to keep track of what expenses they have related to the event."

The EOC will go online at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday, November 15 and remain staffed around the clock through Monday, November 19, the day after the race.

By Adam BennettAustin Officials Outline F1 Public Safety Plan



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