Power & Market

Taxpayers Fume as Politicians Close Streets for Auto Races

Formula 1 week has finally arrived this week in Las Vegas. After months and months of traffic annoyance for workers commuting to their jobs on the Strip and tourists attempting to walk or Uber from one property to another the end is finally in sight.

Once the racing begins, cars will roar down Las Vegas Blvd. (the Strip) weave over to Koval which will provide another long straightaway past the finish/start line then west on Harmon and back to the Strip. The race will go off at 10pm PST to show off the lights of Vegas for TV viewers, or maybe providing a convenient viewing time for European viewers. Three nights of practice, qualifying and the actual race will stymie traffic for the thousands who work at Strip hotels.

The Strip corridor will be shut down from 7pm to 2am during the three days of racing. The Strip is open 24/7 and employees must get to work. Dana Gentry wrote in Nevada Current, “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.”

Strip properties are providing incentives for workers to show up during race nights. In one case, a drawing will be held for a new BMW.

The government owns the streets and claims this F1apolluzza will generate $1.3 to $1.6 billion for the local economy. Of course an F1 race is a private venture to be carried out on public streets blocking access to the very taxpayers that pay for these streets. Professor Walter Block, writing about the problem of parades in his book The Privatization of Roads and Highways,

The foregoing was a challenging issue only because there were private people contending for public space. There is no way to solve this under conditions of public ownership, since all private parties have equal standing under any legal system based on the rule of law. The only solution is to reject one of the basic premises—public ownership. Then and only then is there a reasonable resolution of the issue.

“The frustration, inconvenience and blatant disdain for residents living in Las Vegas is evident by the lack of information and coordination with everyone except the promoters of this exhibition,” a resident named Celeste, a Vegas local, told Jalopnik.com.

Tourist David Foxx told Jalopnik, “Everything you read about traffic being a nightmare couldn’t be more true. Numerous lane restrictions on the Strip make it untravelable. The best pedestrian bridge in town is covered. My last night in Vegas, I always take a picture in front of the Bellagio Fountains, but now they are blocked by bleachers for the upcoming race.”

The entire Strip looks to be part of a massive model constructed with an erector set.

According to one Lyft driver, “everyone hates the F1 race. He picked up a woman leaving work at the Sphere last night. She paid two-hours’ wages to get home because the bus would have taken almost five hours with all the rerouting and traffic.”

Gabriel Roth (cited in Block) wrote of applying economic principles to roads and congestion,

“There is nothing new or unusual about these principles, nor are they particularly difficult. What is difficult is to apply them to roads, probably because we have all been brought up to regard roads as community assets freely available to all comers. The difficulty does not lie so much in the technicalities of the matter, but rather in the idea that roads can usefully be regarded as chunks of real estate.

“Someone here is making a lot of money off of this event, and it is not the residents of Clark County,” Celeste told Jalopnik. “We will have our pockets picked, paying taxes for the bill.”

Someone who commented to Jalopnik anonymously said, “If the casinos don’t see a massive recurring profit that offsets the pain from construction and teardown, then this race will be dead. No one gives a crap about the sport. No one.”

Local politicians will not want to admit defeat. Let the resorts own the streets and they would decide, rationally.

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