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Mike Kanin is the Publisher of the Austin Monitor. As such, he doesn't report on much--aside from the workings of the Monitor--any more. In his previous life as a freelance journalist, Kanin has written for the Washington City Paper, the Washington Post's Express, the Boston Herald, Boston's Weekly Dig, the Austin Chronicle, and the Texas Observer.
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Travis County finishes Circuit of the Americas road agreement
Travis County Commissioners approved what they expect will be the final version of a deal for the county to reimburse officials with the Circuit of the Americas racetrack for improvements along Kellam Road. When signed by County Judge Sam Biscoe, the deal will result in up to $4.1 million in costs.
The agreement is part of a wider series of negotiations and deals that seem as though they will finalize both the presence of the track and the Formula 1 race that will go with it. An agreement on the funding for work along Elroy Road is expect back in front of Commissioners sometime soon.
Commissioners approved the Kellam Road deal by a 3-1 vote. Commissioner Karen Huber represented the lone, present ‘no’ vote. However, Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt – who seemed upset as she left before that vote – was also dissatisfied with the agreement. Reached later that evening, Eckhardt told In Fact Daily that she was concerned with “how much” the county is “funding the costs for F1.”
Two weeks ago, Huber and Eckhardt both voted against moving forward with preliminary work on the agreement. “For the last two years we’ve maintained that F1 should pay its own freight with regard to its load on the roads immediately adjacent to its property,” Eckhardt said at the time. “Today, by this motion, we do a 180, and now agree to pick up part of the tab for F1.” (See In Fact Daily, April 18, 2012.)
Pct. 4 Commissioner Margaret Gomez, who represents the precinct where the track will go, has been a supporter of the county stepping in to pick up the road costs. “If there’s been a turnaround on my part, it certainly has been that I’m not in denial about what (race) traffic is going to do to that part of Travis County,” she said two weeks ago. “There is no doubt in my mind now that Precinct 4 is going to be an entertainment hub.”
Track officials had previously agreed to pay for road improvements in the area around the track – a move that would help mitigate anticipated traffic problems brought by the Formula 1 event. Then, in early April, they presented the county with an economic incentives application that would shift the burden of the cost for road construction back to the county. (See In Fact Daily, April 11, 2012.)
The contract, which should be signed today, will cap costs for the Kellam Road project at $4.1 million. Travis County will purchase the road, when it is complete, and integrate it into the county’s system. That move will also leave the county responsible for its maintenance.
The work will extend Kellam Road to Pearce Lane.
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