AUSTIN -- This spring, the Texas Department of Transportation lowered the tolls truckers must pay to use State Highway 130. The goal is to get more of them off Interstate 35 and onto the less-congested SH-130.
Recent crashes on I-35 are another reminder that 18-wheelers are still out there.
Monday morning, during rush hour, a crash on the upper deck of I-35 near downtown Austin tied up traffic and drive times from Round Rock to Austin topped 90 minutes.
Daryl Lively, a commuter from Georgetown to North Austin says he frequently sees 18-wheelers whizzing past him.
"It's more dangerous, of course, riding a motorcycle with so many trucks on the road," he said.
TxDOT officials cut those fees on the toll roads. Now truckers pay the same as cars, about $17 a trip.
They said the number of trucks using SH-130 continues to grow. TxDOT figures show the number of truckers on SH-130 has risen sharply, from 1.9 million in 2010, to just more than three million in 2012.
Many long-haulers like Gary Rice, taking a break at a truck stop near Jarrell, operate their own rigs. They contract with big companies to transport their goods, and a dollar out the door for a toll, is a dollar lost.
"I try to avoid toll roads because of the expense, because it comes right out of my pocket,” he said.
Other truckers such as Sammie Turner are avoiding I-35 and taking the SH-130 alternate route, staying there the entire length of the tollway.
"It was great. It was quicker. Bypass all the traffic, all the accidents, maybe anything else that was going on,” he said.