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Author Topic: Austin Toll Roads  (Read 10477 times)

Alex

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Austin Toll Roads
« on: May 25, 2009, 09:30:03 PM »

http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/05/25/0525wear.html


So, Texas 130 saves time - but is it worth it to you?
Speed, serenity and $6.40 seem to lose out to free and congested.
Monday, May 25, 2009

Is 22 minutes of your time worth $6.40? Or, for you truckers out there, $25.60?

Based on Great Race III, the rubber match between fellow reporter Andrea Ball and me comparing drive times on Interstate 35 and the tollway loop east of town — and on statistics from the Texas Department of Transportation — the answer appears to be mostly no. The 56-mile stretch of Texas 130 and its new partner, Texas 45 Southeast, continues to look and feel like a West Texas highway: wide open and very fast.

The big difference being the paying part.

Andrea and I first did this "race" a year ago, just after the final section of Texas 130 opened. Back then, and in fact until a couple of weeks ago, the eastern loop included about seven miles of FM 1327 and a couple of stop lights. But we did the race anyway. Andrea took the shorter (by about 12 miles), more congested, free route on I-35, while I took the longer, free-flowing, but costly alternative around the metro area's fringe.

The idea was to test the underlying justification for the $1.5 billion or so spent on Texas 130 — that people would be willing to pay to save time. Just how much time was the question.

That first time, with the race beginning at 7:15 a.m. north of Georgetown where Texas 130 rejoins I-35, Andrea beat me by nine minutes. So, I paid money to get there slower. Toll road fans (yes, they exist) cried foul, pointing out that we did the race after college students had gone home for the summer and thus thinned interstate traffic. Fair point.

So we did it again in June after summer school had started, switching to afternoon rush hour and reversing the direction. That time, we started where I-35 and FM 1327 meet.

Andrea hit a lot of congestion, and the combo of the farm-to-market road and the tollway won by 22 minutes.

We decided to do it one last time with the full tollway loop in place. Unfortunately, TxDOT didn't get Texas 45 Southeast open until May 7, and we couldn't align our schedules for Race III until last Thursday. After the students were gone, which in theory set up Andrea and I-35 to win again.

They didn't. Leaving that I-35/FM 1327/Texas 45 Southeast junction at 4:46 p.m., I drubbed her again by 22 minutes. So, even with the students gone and less traffic on I-35, the tollway still was much faster. Going 70 mph the whole way, I traveled the 56 miles in 49 minutes. Andrea, going about 44 miles, took 71 minutes.

<snip>

Texas 130, so far, is falling short, revenue-wise, of what were already modest expectations from TxDOT. For the six months ending Feb. 28 , revenue for the road was $1.6 million . That's about 12 percent under expectations. Traffic, however, is nearly 18 percent above projections.

The relative absence of 18-wheelers, which pay four times what a car does, could partially explain that anomaly. I have seen very few of them on my three rush-hour trips on Texas 130. I-35, on the other hand, as anyone who drives it knows, remains choked with big rigs. Andrea's passenger counted more than 225 on I-35 during their drive; I saw less than a dozen.

Most truckers apparently don't think the time-versus-money tradeoff is worth it.

Will this be different five years from now? Fifteen?

<snip>
« Last Edit: February 04, 2010, 10:20:31 AM by AARoads »
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Sykotyk

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Re: Austin Toll Roads
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2009, 11:36:07 PM »

Tolling a bypass is counter productive.

The mainline should be the toll and the bypass free.

That would completely alleviate traffic through the downtown area.

Sadly, it can't be done that way. And Texas is incapable of making a free bypass.

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Alps

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Re: Austin Toll Roads
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2009, 09:52:01 PM »

Tolling the urban mainline is very difficult due to number of exits and demand for the city.  Tolling the bypass works provided the toll is reasonable - this does not seem reasonable, though.

Sykotyk

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Re: Austin Toll Roads
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2009, 01:52:02 PM »

I understand the difficulty in doing so.

But, if your goal is to truly alleviate traffic downtown, and you MUST toll something, that's the way to go.

The toll is ungodly expensive. Whoever thought a trucker would pay $25 to save 22 minutes is an idiot.

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Chris

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Re: Austin Toll Roads
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2009, 02:09:03 PM »

But if you toll like I-35 through Austin, and the bypass will be toll-free, wouldn't traffic still chose urban roads? The bypass will probably still be quite a detour for many, so they might chose surface streets instead.

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Re: Austin Toll Roads
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2009, 02:24:37 PM »

toll 'em all; let God sort 'em out.
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BigMattFromTexas

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Toll Roads in Austin, Texas
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2009, 02:19:45 PM »

Have yall seen the CTTS (Central Texas Turnpike System) website?
I saw a timelapse of the construction late last year, here they are.
http://www.centraltexasturnpike.org/flash/sh130/
http://www.centraltexasturnpike.org/flash/loop1/
I thought these were cool.
 BigMatt
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Alex

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Re: Austin Toll Roads
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2009, 11:53:45 AM »

Construction revs up on new tollway toward Seguin
New section will offer less congested route to Houston.

Crews have dug the holes and laid the foundations of some of the columns that will be the interchange between Texas 45 Southeast and the new, 40-mile-long extension of Texas 130 as it heads to Lockhart. Near Maha Creek, the median between the north- and southbound lanes of U.S. 183 is a mishmash of black-dirt hillocks as crews work on future bridges over the creek.

Construction of Texas' first public-private toll road began quietly several weeks ago, with a lack of fanfare given all the controversy such tollway agreements have generated over the past five years. A consortium called SH 130 Concession Co., led by Spanish toll road operator Cintra and Zachry Construction, is financing the $1.35 billion project and will operate it (and, it hopes, profit from it) over the next 50 years. It should open to traffic in 2012.

Just two other public-private tollways in Texas are in the works, both at least two years further back in the development process and unlikely to break ground soon. Cintra is the lead actor on both projects, which involve adding toll lanes on Interstate 820, Texas 183 and Texas 121 in Tarrant County and on the LBJ freeway in Dallas.

Chris

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Re: Austin Toll Roads
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2009, 12:26:58 PM »

I always wondered why there isn't a direct freeway/toll road between Austin and Houston. Austin might have been a relatively unsignificant city (besides being the capital) before the 90's, but the metropolitan area has grown to over 1.5 million inhabitants today.

Sykotyk

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Re: Austin Toll Roads
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2009, 02:04:41 PM »

Well, US-290 is quite a good road for most of the way. It is slowly being brought up to freeway/expressway standards in places.

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Marc

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Re: Austin Toll Roads
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2010, 12:19:05 AM »

I NEVER take US 290. Takes too long. TX-71 to I-10 East (via Columbus) is a much more viable route (especially if you live in west Houston).
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mightyace

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Re: Austin Toll Roads
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2010, 11:00:45 PM »

Use your cell phone instead of a transponder:

PToll - mobile phone tolling to be launched at CTRMA in Austin TX

As this could be big if it works, I will also post this article in General Highway Talk.

Use your cell (mobile) phone to pay tolls
« Last Edit: February 01, 2010, 11:03:29 PM by mightyace »
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