TXDOT reduces toll costs for truckers



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Posted on February 3, 2013 at 9:18 PM

Updated Sunday, Feb 3 at 9:22 PM

AUSTIN -- We all know how bad the traffic can be in Austin.

This month TXDOT is working to ease congestion, by enticing truckers to use toll roads. If you think driving on I-35 through Austin is bad, try braving the bumper to bumper traffic in an 18-wheeler.

"That's a nightmare! It's worst than Miami, New York, any other place," said truck driver Nelson Sardina.

There are even a lot of cars on the road on a Sunday afternoon. But go east, and Texas Toll Road 130 looks like the road less traveled.

Now, the Texas Department of Transportation is trying to lure drivers onto this stretch of pavement. It offers a straight shot from Georgetown to Buda, at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour, for $11 or less if you're in a regular car or truck.

But, if you drive an 18-wheeler, you will pay more. A lot more.

On the most expensive areas of the 130 and 45 toll roads, a 2-axle vehicle would pay $1.69. Trucks with 4 or more axles pay $5.07. That is, until Monday.

The Texas Transportation Commission voted to reduce the tolls on 130 and 45 for truck drivers to the same price as passenger vehicles until March 3rd, a discount of more that 67 percent.

"That's worth it, absolutely! 100 percent," said Sardina.

"I think it's a good idea. I mean if it helps with traffic, because going down there, it doesn't matter what time, day or night, there's always traffic," said truck driver Steve Cheney.

The commission isn't just feeling generous. It's trying to reduce traffic congestion on I-35. And it knows that this plan works.

It did it back in 2011 and truck traffic on the toll roads went up 49 percent.

As nice as it would be to have these prices all the time, TXDOT cannot afford to do that.

The agency still has to repay a set amount of debt on toll revenues. So drivers are encouraged to enjoy this good thing -- while it lasts.