Las Vegas Formula 1 roadwork hampers WSOP commutes

las vegas f1 track paving
Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: June 03, 2023 13:56 PDT

There's always something unexpected in Las Vegas that unfolds during the annual summer gathering of the world's best poker players at the World Series of Poker and other festivals. This year, the unexpected (or at least unplanned for by many players) includes the considerable traffic delays caused by preparations for this fall's Formula 1 road race at the heart of the Vegas Strip.

The Las Vegas Grand Prix, to be held in November, will traverse the Strip from Sands Avenue on the north and Harmon Avenue on the south, using Las Vegas Blvd. and Koval Lane (east of the Strip) to complete a roughly four-sided loop. The issue for Las Vegas officials in preparing for the Formula 1 road race is that all the roads involved need to repaved to create a smooth racing surface for the very-low-slung F1 cars, which create adding traction by being designed to hug the road as closely as possible.

The repaving work surrounding at the heart of the Strip has been underway since early April, but that doesn't mean players and workers, whether locals or visiting from afar, really understood the impact of the road closures. Take Phil Hellmuth, for example;

Adam Friedman, who is trying to win a bracelet this year in a record fifth consecutive live WSOP, made his own travel adjustments... and then changed them:

Impacts will vary as summer progresses

For the moment, fortunately for WSOP attendees, the portion of repaving work that caused excessive delays the first four days of the series has been completed. Most of the Las Vegas Blvd. repaving actually took place in April and May before the WSOP and other major poker series began/ However, it wasn't quite complete. The recent work involved the Las Vegas Blvd. intersection with Flamingo Road and another patch of the Strip to the south of the Horseshoe/Paris area. The work guaranteed that most new WSOP arrivals would encounter the closed lanes and long backups. Welcome to Gridlock Vegas!

Beginning tomorrow, June 4, work begins a little further south on the Strip, where it intersects Harmon Ave. That closure is scheduled to last through June 12 and will significantly impact travel to MGM Grand, where that casino's Summer Series is also ongoing. And it means that traveling north on the Strip to reach the WSOP won't be possible for that same week and a half.

When all the roadwork is complete, it may well be the MGM Grand that suffers the longest direct impact of the ongoing roadwork. MGM Grand and the Aria have suffered roughly equally to date, but that changes beginning June 26 when work on Harmon Ave. itself begins and entry to the MGM Grand's parking structure promises to be challenging. Harmon Ave. will be shut down for 12 dys, through July 7.

The Harmon Ave. closure also disrupts the back way into the joint Paris/Horseshoe parking structure used by WSOP attendees. Normally, the only way into the ramp without using the Strip or the Flamingo Road access is via Harmon Road and the narrow Audrie Street, which also provides access to Planet Hollywood's parking ramp. When Harmon is being repaved, Planet Hollywood's vehicular traffic also goes to the Paris Road access from the Strip, adding even more crush to what is a glorified alleyway anyway.

Then there's the looming Koval Lane closure, scheduled for June 18-23. Koval runs parallel to the Strip several hundred yards to the East, and it's a favored route for Vegas poker regs to shuttle from one casino to another. Koval is going to be shut down in both directions from Flamingo, north and south. Players arriving at the WSOP from points east will need to find alternate routes, probably further to the south, to get to the WSOP.

Share and share alike for center-Strip casinos

Other Strip casinos hosting major poker series have been impacted as well. The planned course's northern leg, Sands Avenue, already underwent work in April and May, impacting access to both Wynn and Venetian. There's more Sands Ave. work to be done as well.

In essence, if one of this summer's major poker series is being held anywhere near the heart of the Las Vegas Strip, it's going to suffer some travel impact. Only those rooms some distance from the planned F1 loop look to be clear of the expected delays, and those include Orleans, South Point, and the Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas.

One thing's worth repeating: Advance planning is a must this summer to negotiate the Vegas Strip roadwork. Otherwise, Brent Hanks' take on the situation might apply best:

Featured image source: Twitter/@ClarkCountyNV