Updated November 21, 2023 - 7:31 pm
As the sun rose over Las Vegas Boulevard on Sunday, the smiley face emoji in the Formula One helmet that watched over the proceedings the previous three nights yielded its place on the Sphere.
It was a new day in the valley as the temporary additions along the Las Vegas Grand Prix course began coming down.
And there’s good news for locals who want the affected roads cleared faster than winner Max Verstappen hoped to see our fair city in his rearview mirror: Work will continue around the clock through Wednesday night to get as much removed as possible before Thanksgiving.
“It will take some time over the coming weeks to return to normal,” Jennifer Cooper, Clark County’s chief communications and strategy officer, wrote in an email, “but we are actively working to ensure the impact to the public is mitigated as much as possible.”
The morning after
There was a distinct “the circus has left town” vibe Sunday morning along the course.
A couple of people cleaned up around the grandstand seating at Harmon Avenue and Koval Lane a little after 6 a.m. An hour later, the workers in the Bellagio Fountain Club outnumbered pedestrians across the street by at least a factor of 10.
By 8 a.m., security guards stationed at intervals along Koval Lane to keep people from messing around on the course seemed bored by the lack of pedestrians. One of those guards, part of a group brought in from San Diego for the event, was still cheery despite having worked 15-hour days since Thursday.
Fifteen fans were lined up outside the F1 Las Vegas Hub in The Venetian at 9 a.m., waiting for it to open at 10. The first to arrive, a visitor from Ohio who came into town Thursday, said he’d already been there an hour.
Outside The Venetian, crews were deep into removing the viewing platform atop the drained gondola canal, while graffiti was being painted over on the west side of the pedestrian bridge leading to the resort.
What comes next?
The buildup to Sunday had been a long one, going all the way back to April 2 when paving — and the first of the lane closures that have snarled traffic, angered business owners and exasperated many residents to the point the head of F1’s parent company apologized — began on Sands Avenue between Koval Lane and Las Vegas Boulevard.
That’s where the work to remove the temporary cabling, concrete barriers, fencing, safety barricades and track lighting is starting.
Three lanes of Sands Avenue within the track barriers are scheduled to be closed from Las Vegas Boulevard to Koval Lane, with a single lane open for travel in each direction, from 9 p.m Sunday through 9 p.m. Wednesday.
Two southbound lanes of Las Vegas Boulevard will be closed from Sands Avenue to Harmon Avenue from 12 a.m. Monday through 11:59 p.m. Wednesday. The northbound lanes of Las Vegas Boulevard will remain open.
This may take a while
That’s just the first batch of closures, though. Cooper encouraged the public to opt-in for traffic updates by texting “F1LV” to 31996. “The goal,” she wrote, “is to have much of it dismantled by Christmas.”
Crews will have to work around a couple of big events between now and then. AWS re:Invent, the global cloud computing gathering that draws around 50,000 attendees each year, is scheduled for Nov. 27-Dec. 1. After that, it’s the National Finals Rodeo, which drew 173,350 paying spectators last year and brought 279,465 shoppers to The Cowboy Channel Cowboy Christmas at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Ancillary events begin Dec. 3, with the main event scheduled for Dec. 7-16.
As for the other big dismantling project, “Bellagio Fountain Club will begin teardown in the days immediately following the event, and the process will take several weeks to complete,” according to an MGM Resorts spokesman. “We anticipate the frontage of Bellagio, including pedestrian access, will be fully restored by New Year’s Eve.”
Enjoy the downtime after that while you can, because while the paving is expected to last at least six years, we’ll get to go through a lot of this all over again next year.
The 2024 Las Vegas Grand Prix is scheduled for Nov. 21-23.