SPARTA, KY (WAVE) - It may be hard to believe, but in just less than a year's time in June 2012, the Kentucky Speedway will once again be in the national spotlight as another NASCAR race comes to town. Officials are scrambling to make sure there are no major traffic disasters this time around, making significant changes around the track.
"For race fans, it's a great day," said Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger.
But that wasn't the case for some fans trying to get inside at the Sprint Cup race this year. From the air, and from the ground, you can see hundreds if not thousands were at a standstill just waiting to get inside.
"Immediately we all got together and we all began to work on a solution and we were all committed to making sure we would never have traffic issues like that again and you know that was only 7 weeks ago," Simendinger said.
The work has already started, with the purchase of some nearby land. It's not harvest time yet, but the speedway is clearing this tobacco field and barn, to pave way for hundreds of additional parking spaces.
"Today's the first day we're showing tangible evidence of what we're going to do," Simendinger said.
And it's not limited to parking. The state's getting involved, making big changes to I-71 and Kentucky 35.
Part of the interstate exit ramp will expand to 3 lanes.
Part of Highway 35 will expand to 5 lanes, and a pedestrian tunnel will be added beneath it, and your tax dollars will pay for it.
"These projects will cost approximately $3.6 million and the state will be paying for that project out of the cabinet's contingency fund," Governor Steve Beshear said.
Governor Beshear says it's an investment, since the race brought nearly 110,000 people to the area.
"In so many ways, it was a huge success. It was such a huge success that we experienced some very significant traffic problems," Gov. Beshear said.
Work should be done by next summer, adding a new chapter to an old track.
"I remember our sign starting last year said history starts now, but this is a contingency of the history and we're building a major speedway here," said Kentucky Speedway Owner Bruton Smith.
NASCAR officials say they applaud the move, and look forward to the next big race.
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