After Grand Prix of Baltimore, crews hustle to clear downtown streets

With the Grand Prix of Baltimore over, workers were taking down fences, removing safety barriers and opening streets Monday with the goal of restoring the flow of traffic through Downtown Baltimore in time for the Tuesday morning commute.

By 5 a.m. Tuesday, Grand Prix of Baltimore General Manager Tim Mayer said, all major streets around the two-mile circuit would be open to traffic. Only Sharp Street, which connects Pratt and Conway streets through the Baltimore Convention Center, would still be closed, he said.


"We're well underway," Mayer said. "We want to be good neighbors, and now that our party is done, we want to clean up after ourselves."

Crews went to work after the IndyCar Series race finished Sunday evening, and labored through the night to break down the two-mile circuit.


"Everyone is working hard to get downtown back to normal," said Ryan O'Doherty, a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. "Many major streets were reopened to traffic early this morning and we fully expect all major roads to be open for tomorrow morning's commute. Traffic should flow very well Tuesday morning."

Race On Baltimore, the group that staged the event, is responsible for taking down the grandstands, fences and other track improvements. The city reopens streets and cleans up debris.

The first job, Mayer said, was removing the asphalt paving over the light rail tracks. By morning, workers had cleared the attractions and vendors along Howard, Camden and Light streets, and Howard, Russell, Light and Charles streets were open.

Workers had removed four miles of spectator fencing — half of the total — and were using heavy equipment to move the concrete blocks and steel fence panels that lined the circuit. That's "no small thing," Mayer said: Each of the interlocking blocks weighs five tons.

Mayer said Oriole Park at Camden Yards would be restored to normal in time for the Orioles' next home game, Thursday evening against the New York Yankees. The rest of the track, including the grandstands in the Inner Harbor, at the convention center and elsewhere, were to be broken down within the next two weeks, he said.

While official attendance figures were not released, the three-day racing festival Friday through Sunday drew tens of thousands to Downtown Baltimore for open-wheel street racing.

It was the second year of the event, but the first for Race On Baltimore and Andretti Sports Marketing, which took over after the city severed ties with last year's team over its failure to pay debts to vendors, contractors, the city and state.

Crowds this year appeared to be smaller than those for last year. But Mayer declared the 2012 Grand Prix a success.


"We did what we said we were going to do," Mayer said. "We've righted the ship.

"Last year it was a success from the fact lot of people came, not a success from a business perspective, an organizational perspective.

"People found we were organized. They were able to get around. They found we had the attractions that they wanted to see."