- Mostly cloudy
SPARTA, Ky. - Cranes, workers and 30 tons of concrete danced in a light rain Tuesday morning at the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.
When the dance is completed in late March, racing fans will see a big change from last year. That includes a wider Kentucky Hwy 35, and a new pedestrian tunnel connecting a vast parking lot.
"We're thinking in the vicinity of 8,000 cars," said Speedway spokesman Tim Bray.
He says that's good news for fans of the Quaker State 400 Sprint Cup Series.
In 2011, just getting to that race became a nightmare.
"There was just an awful lot of folks here," said Bray.
The Speedway's parking lots, Interstate 71 and Kentucky 35 were woefully overloaded.
Many fans never made it to the track.
"We believe that we are fixing the issues," said Bray.
"(The State of Kentucky is) widening the shoulders along Kentucky 35," said Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesperson Nancy Wood, "as well as increasing it to 5 lanes, so there's going to be a lot more room, a lot more capacity."
For its part, Kentucky is spending $3.7 million on the project.
Bray declined to say how much the Speedway is investing for their improved parking.
Both agree it appears to be on track to finish in plenty of time for the Sprint Cup Series' second year.
In addition to the improved highway, the state's dollars are paying for the pedestrian tunnel that will run underneath.
Workers were sliding 25 sections of preformed concrete together like a child's Lego set.
Semi trucks were lined up, ready to offload each 11 foot high section, one after another.
But, why is the state paying for it?
Wood says to keep fans from running across the busy highway to get to the track.
"A safety issue, definitely. We want to get people in and out and moving safely," she said.
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