Dana Gentry

(Nevada Current) Clark County commissioners want to know how tourism and transportation officials intend to shuttle tens of thousands of workers to their appointed jobs while navigating a Las Vegas Strip largely blocked from traffic for three days of Grand Prix racing next week that is expected to draw more than 100,000 visitors a day.

“There is no question that the Las Vegas Grand Prix is going to be an epic event,” Brian Yost, chief operating officer of the Las Vegas Convention and VIsitors Authority, told commissioners Tuesday. “And there is also no question that one of the most important components to the success of the event will be the ability for the men and women who work in the resort corridor at the properties that are affected by the traffic conditions and immediately adjacent to those properties to be able to get to work efficiently.”

That effort will be complicated by a lack of parking set aside for workers – only about 4,600 spots at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday when the event will be “hot” – closed streets, construction unrelated to the race, and a bus transit system that is expected to run on schedule 30% of the time.

“The month of October has presented the most challenging impact for our riders and operators to date,” said Sabrina Glennon, senior director of transit operations for the Regional Transportation Commission. “The need to detour services multiple times has affected our ability to provide predictable and reliable service.”

It’s expected to get worse as race week approaches.

“To put this into perspective, a transit rider using the bus five days a week to go to and from work will experience a late bus seven out of 10 times that they ride,” Glennon said. “It is incredibly challenging for anyone in the resort corridor, whether they are using one of our buses, walking, riding a bike or driving.”

“I don’t know who’s on first anymore. But here’s what I do know,” said Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrict, in response to news that 70% of buses may be late. “I’m gonna ride the bus on Thursday (Nov. 9) and you all better be riding the bus with me because I’m going to ask some hard questions and we’re going to do it for several hours because everybody from F1 on down – my constituents have to know how to get from A to B.”

Traffic officials say they’ll be monitoring 1,100 cameras and employ highway message boards to communicate with motorists.

The race track will be “hot” from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., with some 45 crossings beginning to close each night at 5 p.m.  Construction crews are expected to remove barriers to closed crossings shortly after the track goes “cold” at 2 a.m.

“We gotta suck it up and make it work,” Kirkpatrick told tourism and traffic officials. “I’m going to hold you to it.”

“She speaks for all of us,” Commissioner Jim Gibson added. “All of us are expecting that you have engaged professionals who know what they’re doing and have a measure of experience that applies to something like this, although this is not like any other race.”

Caesars Entertainment employees can park on property or at the Las Vegas Convention Center, where they can catch a shuttle to work, according to Yost, who says MGM Resorts International employees “have similar options available to them to either park in their home properties or park in a lot and shuttle to work.”

They can also take the Las Vegas Monorail which will be operating 24 hours a day during the event and has a “theoretical capacity” of 3,000 passengers an hour using a full capacity of eight cars, according to Yost.

Strip employers are providing workers with detailed instructions on how to get to work, according to tourism officials. A phone app with traffic information is available to the public, but is intended for use by those attending the race.

Officials from a variety of agencies, including law enforcement, will be monitoring snarls and adjusting traffic signals on the fly from a command post at Switch.

“We probably bit off more than we could chew. But it’s here now,” said Kirkpatrick, adding “everybody’s done yeoman’s work. I get it.  But I need some positive reinforcement that we shall get through this one.”

Race officials reminded fans the event is at night, that “sneakers are required, not optional,” earplugs are options, and only clear bags will be permitted.

“The economic impact of the Las Vegas Grand Prix is estimated at $1.3 billion, making it the single largest special event in Las Vegas history,” according to Formula 1, the team sport that produces the Grand Prix.

The event kicks off Wednesday, Nov. 15 with opening ceremonies. Qualifying races will be held Thursday and Friday, with the final race Saturday.