Phase two of the Texas Department of Transportation Truck Toll Discount Program is underway. A trucker driving on State Highway 130 (from the Interstate 35 exit in Georgetown to U.S. 183 exit in Buda) and State Highway 45SE will see the discount on tolls increase.
From Nov. 1 through Aug. 31, 2017, a savings of 67 percent will be issued to TxTag users only. Those with the tag will pay only $8.04. However, pay-by-mail drivers will still pay the $21.41 rate from phase one. Switching from pay-by-mail to TxTag could save up to 75 percent.
On March 31, the state legislature passed the Truck Toll Discount Program in an effort to relieve congestion on Interstate 35. Phase one began in April and ran through Oct. 31 and included a 33 percent discount. Pay-by-mail truckers will keep that rate, whereas TxTag truckers get the increased discount.
Discounts are being offered after the state legislature approved $18.7 million over two years for reduced tolls on large trucks. Only SH 130 and SH 45SE are eligible for the discount. All other toll roads near Austin will continue to operate at the normal rates.
“By getting some of these big rigs to use SH 130, during peak hours, we will help ease some of the gridlock we see on I-35 through Austin,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass in a press release. “This will get drivers to their destinations quicker by saving them time that otherwise would be spent in traffic.”
But will truckers take advantage of the discount?
OOIDA Member Sean O’Rourke told Land Line when he plans to use SH 130.
“Never,” O’Rourke said. “I’m not driving on a toll road if there’s another route that’s free.”
O’Rourke acknowledged that truckers driving through the area more frequently may find a use for the discounted SH 130, but the company he drives for avoids tolls whenever possible. In some cases, O’Rourke will drive on a toll road if the route is quicker and time is an issue. Otherwise, he finds driving on alternate routes that are toll-free to be more cost efficient.
This is not the first or second time truckers have received a discount on SH 130. According to TxDOT spokesperson Mark Cross, trucker incentives were placed Dec. 21, 2011, to Jan. 25, 2012; Feb. 4, 2013, to March 3, 2013; and April 1, 2013, to Dec. 31, 2013. During the previous discount, truck toll transactions increased more than 36 percent, according to TxDOT.
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