Traffic backed up on Interstate 71 on July 9, 2011
Traffic on Kentucky 35 tryuing to get into Kentucky Speedway on July 9, 2011
FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - NASCAR's Sprint Cup racing series will return to the Kentucky Speedway. Track officials revealed Tuesday that on June 30, 2012 the track will host its next major race.
Before a State Senate Transportation Committee Tuesday, Mark Simendinger, the track's general manager said NASCAR is satisfied scenes like what happened earlier this summer won't happen again. However, the senators had plenty of tough questions of their own.
Among the thousands of people who got tied up in traffic on the way to the Kentucky Speedway's inaugural Sprint Cup race was State Senator Bob Leeper (I-Paducah).
"I was one of those people," Leeper said. "I have my tickets here."
Simendinger once again took full responsibility for the traffic mess.
"We do not want to have this issue again," Simendinger said. "I can't stress that to you guys enough."
Simendinger said the track and state transportation officials think they can avoid similar parking and traffic problems in the future with planned improvements - more parking, more lanes and better traffic flow.
"I want enough parking, enough lanes, I want them moving fast enough so that, and we didn't build this track and we're not spending all this money to just be ok," said Simendinger.
It's not just the Speedway spending money. Improvements also come at an almost $4 million price tag to the state and that brought the most criticism from senators.
"Where I get it all the time is I-65 in Bowling Green where people are being killed and yet, we're somehow finding this extra money to be able to do this when we can't find money for that," said Sen. Mike Wilson (R-Bowling Green).
"So it's not our problem so why, how do I go out and tell my constituents that you still have to pay for it," Sen. Paul Hornback (R-Shelbyville).
"If we don't want to have a repeat of this situation, then the state's going to invest in a $4 million tunnel to address this," added Sen. Tim Shaughnessy (D-Louisville).
Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock told senators that the cabinet's main concern is keeping I-71 moving and the state was going to have to spend the money to do that on NASCAR weekends.
Simendinger said the state improvements were part of the plan the Speedway pitched to NASCAR before NASCAR agreed Kentucky could have another Sprint Cup race next year.
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