Reduced toll rate may not be enough in Austin

| 1/24/2011

Officials in Texas are toying with the idea of reducing tolls on the State Highway 130 toll road east of downtown Austin as an incentive to get more trucks to use it. But would a 25 percent reduction be enough to entice truckers to use the roadway? One OOIDA life member says no.

A five-axle truck currently pays $29.32, or $25.60 with a TxTag, to run the full length of the SH130 as a bypass of I-35 in downtown Austin.

According to media reports, the Texas Department of Transportation plans to seek approval from the Texas Transportation Commission to reduce the SH130 truck toll by 25 percent.

That would knock $6.40 off the TxTag rate and $7.33 off the cash rate, but is that enough to get more trucks to use the toll road?

OOIDA Life Member Frank Owen of Waco doesn?t think 25 percent will do much to lure truckers onto the roadway.

Owen picks up and delivers in the I-35 corridor. He says he avoids spending much time on the SH130 because of the cost and the number of toll booths on the roadway.

?If they did away with half the toll booths, it would be an incentive,? Owen told Land Line on Monday, Jan. 24.

?The way it is now, it?s just like the toll road down in Houston. As soon as you get up to the speed limit, you?ve got to stop and pay a toll.?

Owen says the SH 130 does save some time compared to downtown on I-35. ?But to me, you?re better off sticking it out in traffic,? he said.

?If they?d get off their tail and build a bypass and charge $5 for the bypass, everybody would do that,? Owen said. ?But as it is, to make a delivery halfway around that thing, it costs $6 to $9. They?ve got you by the rear end in some of those areas.?

Jumping off and on the toll road adds up for truckers in the area, he said.

?I really think Texas is just shooting in the air with this toll road business around the big cities,? Owen said.

Part of the Central Texas Turnpike System, SH 130 is being built in segments. The first segments opened to traffic in 2006 and 2008, designed as congestion relief for I-35. An additional phase, which is planned to open in 2012, would extend to San Antonio.