The Austrian Grand Prix

 

Infact, the Grand Prix weekend has such major traffic flow problems that Northants Police have a website with advice of alternative routes, diversion warnings and the likes that is active on and around the race weekend. (http://www. northants. police. uk/spevents/grandprix. htm) The sheer volume is not the sole cause of the traffic problem, like many of the British racing circuits, Silverstone has its roots as an old military airbase, and to this day it is still an active airport. But also like many other circuits due to its airbase heritage, it is in the middle of nowhere and as such it has suffered from poor transport links.

Such is the demand for access to the circuit, that on race day Silverstone airport which is on the site of the circuit is the busiest airport in the country! The only access to the circuit is through Silverstone village which is a severe bottle neck on race weekends. Silverstone itself is a small village with only one road in and out. It can be reached via the A43 and has connections with both the M1 and M40 motorways. With this being the case there has been serious effort put into easing the problems in and around the circuit, infact all the way back to the motorways down which most of the traffic flows.

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The A43 aka the Dadford Road is the subject of major development. The work on and around the circuit has been broken down into several phases which pool the resources of the Government in terms of funding and the highways Agency, Octagon Motorsport, the venue’s management, Sports Venue Technology, the company in charge of orchestrating the improvements and various other companies and organisations providing outside funding. Some of the points outlined in phase one of the Masterplan include: The existing two lanes of the Dadford Road being supplemented by the construction of two new additional lanes.

These will run in parallel with the existing Dadford Road, thus creating a total of four lanes connecting the new Silverstone bypass (currently under construction) with a new main entrance and adjacent new car parking areas Access improvements being enhanced and supplemented by a major new entrance to Silverstone Circuit Additional car parking areas being provided adjacent to the new entrance and being able to accommodate approximately 15,000 cars in close proximity to the circuit  The new road system will ensure that, for the first time, an effective park and ride system can operate at Silverstone along priority routes.

Further development is planned for internal access and circulation with improvements to the perimeter road  Traffic management of the new dual carriageway and surrounding roads at major race meetings will permit tidal flow operation during entry and exit periods, with up to three lanes available on each carriageway. There is provision for a controlled emergency route when this is required  The new confidence of Silverstone will be underlined by a major planting scheme, which will create a tree-lined boulevard as the new approach to the circuit (www. sportsvenue-technology. com).

The problem of high volumes of traffic is not only an issue for the circuit management, Octagon Motorsport, but imagine the disruption and inconvenience to local residents and businesses not to mention the environmental impact of such a high volume of traffic through a rural area, which is one of the arguments for the investment of government money into the project. Furthermore, when discussing the environmental impact of the weekend, we cannot forget the pollution, both noise and chemical from the air traffic, and the biggest contributor, the Formula 1 cars themselves which put out a phenomenal amount of emissions.

As a partial countermeasure to the pollution produced by the use of the circuit, there have been plans drawn up which have begun to be implemented for the planting of large numbers of greenery including trees and shrubbery. It is hoped that this greenery will absorb large amounts of the noise and emission gases produced when the venue is at full swing. The Grand Prix weekend has traditionally fallen in July for many years, however in the year 2000 the Formula One calendar put the British event in April.

This change of date caused substantial problems for the organisers of that year’s event. With a change in month came a change in the weather conditions and the April showers proved to the downfall of that year’s event. Like many other of events, both inside and outside of the motorsport umbrella, temporary parking is a must particularly with events of this size. One of the most common ways of providing parking capacity is to make use of grass land in and around the track, in the strong July sunshine this posses little problems.

But in April 2000 there was heavy rain up to and on the date as you would expect in England in at that time of year. This left the area waterlogged with some of the car parks closed because they were flooded and as the other remaining car parks began to fill to capacity the problems started to emerge, or submerge in the case of the soggy car parks. By the time the spectators left for home, the fields were in such a state that many vehicles became bogged down and had to be pulled to safety. As a result of this chaos steps were taken to resolve the situation for the following years.

The main action taking was the lifting of most of the turf in the temporary car parks so that a mesh could be laid under the surface and the turf replaced. This means that no matter how water logged the ground becomes the surface will be stable enough to cope with the volume of traffic imposed on it on race days. For venues to be successful and profitable in today’s market place there is a constant need to find new uses for their facilities as well as the consolidation and improvement of the venue to retain current business.

This often means that a venue will have to grow and expand with the popularity of the events that it hosts. It is this position that the Silverstone circuit has found itself in with the urgent need to improve it’s transport access and parking facilities in order to retain the British Grand Prix, not only for the Silverstone circuit, but to keep the British Grand Prix on the F1 calendar in future years. It is also important that venues manage not only the profitability of its events, but try to minimise the side effects created by its business activities.

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