SPARTA, Ky. - On Monday, Gov. Steve Beshear and Speedway Motorsports Chairman and CEO Bruton Smith got an up close look at the improvements made at the Kentucky Speedway after thousands of fans missed last year's inaugural Sprint Cup race because of massive traffic and parking problems.
Last summer, the race had traffic backed up for miles on I-71 because the roads around the track were bumper to bumper because of the lack of parking. It's estimated as many as 14,000 didn't get to see the race.
Since then, the commonwealth of Kentucky spent $3.6 million to add a new lane to the exit ramp from southbound I-71 to Kentucky Route 35, widen Route 35 from I-71 past the track and build a pedestrian tunnel underneath the roadway.
Governor Beshear saw the new pedestrian and tram tunnel, which connects the new parking area to the original Speedway property. The tunnel provides safe access to the track from 143 acres of new parking that can accommodate 18,000 vehicles.
The track's signature event, the Quaker State 400, is set for June 30.
Speedway Motorsports, Inc. invested $7.5 million to buy the land, level it, plus haul, dump, spread and compact gravel to handle the weight of traffic.
While Beshear is in the area, he also is scheduled to talk about the Kentucky 16 project in Taylor Mill.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.