SH-130 to start tolling drivers


by MELISSA MAHADEO / KVUE News with photojournalist JOHN FISHER

Posted on November 8, 2012 at 6:19 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 8 at 7:08 PM

AUSTIN -- If you haven’t experienced driving 85 mph for free yet, your time is almost  up. Starting Sunday, you'll have to pay tolls to drive that 41-mile stretch of SH-130.

“We had been doing some various tests and allowing people to come try out the road and experience 85 mph, which you can’t really experience anywhere else, legally,” lead engineer for the SH-130 Concession Company Guy Russell said.

On Sunday it will still be legal but will cost you about 15 cents a mile with a TxTag. For cars and SUVs’ that translates to $6.17 for the entire stretch with a TxTag, or about $8.21 without one.

Sixteen tolling locations are in place and each is equipped with laser detectors and cameras. Russell said the cameras are the newest on the market. He said that means no matter how small or dull the writing on a plate the cameras will be able to see them.

In a speed test before the road opened, a driver clocked through a toll at 187 mph. They were still able to get a picture.

Officials like Lockhart Police said speeding is still not recommended. Following the speed limit change, several accidents involving wild hogs were seen near Lockhart.

The Lockhart Police Department recorded dash cam video of dozens of hogs running across the roadway a few weeks ago.

However the SH-130 Concession Company, the company in charge of that 41-mile stretch of road of SH-130, said they haven't seen hogs on their roads.

“Physically in our road, in our right of way we have yet to see them,” IT management for the traffic operations center Jamie Gaylord said.

The traffic operations center watches the roads 24/7, 365 days a week. Their cameras are able to monitor most of the stretch of SH-130.

They said so far hogs haven't been a problem but they said their cameras do not cover the entire road.

“Our cameras don’t give us complete inch-by-inch coverage of our roads,” Gaylord said.  

Gaylord said, so far, drivers have not complained about the roads being too dark to drive on either. 

The SH-130 Concession Company will be placing warning signs to watch for wildlife along the roadway for drivers who expressed concern following the speed limit change.