TxDOT wants trucks off I-35, onto tollways


by QUITA CULPEPPER / KVUE News and photojournalist ERIN COKER


Posted on March 14, 2013 at 6:19 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 14 at 6:21 PM

AUSTIN -- If you drive on I-35 in Austin you know just how maddening the gridlock can be.

TxDOT says a new program will help get some of the traffic off that road by having trucks take the tollways.

It's a sight no one who drives on I-35 likes to see: a never ending line of slow moving traffic and plenty of trucks.

“I just avoid it at all costs,” said driver Eliza Vermillion.

“When you see the traffic, a good 30 percent of them are these trucks and stuff,” said driver Alex Belan.

According to the TxDOT in 2011, more than 17,000 trucks traveled along I-35 in Travis County. The numbers in Williamson County were just slightly lower. And in Hays County, it was a little more than 15,000 trucks.

That's why TxDOT is extending a truck tollway discount. The pilot program went on for a month earlier this year and was successful for a month last year as well.

“When we did the trial run last year we saw a 50 percent increase in the truck toll transactions,” said TxDOT spokesman Mark Cross.

Starting April 1st, trucks that travel nonstop between Austin and Seguin on the SH 130 or SH 45 SE tollways will pay a discounted rate.

“In just the Austin segment they will pay $11 to travel from State Highway 45 Southeast all the way to Georgetown to State Highway 95. That is a 67 percent decrease in what they would normally pay to travel,” Cross said.

TxDOT believes getting hundreds, possibly thousands, of trucks off I-35 will not only make that road safer but trucking companies will save time and money as well.

“We certainly hope that after this trial run is over they'll continue to use it because they'll see the ease it provides them for traveling through the area,” Cross said.

Austin drivers hope the plan to have more trucks take the tollways works, but they're not holding their breath.

“If they can take the toll road that would help a lot,” Belan said.

“I don't know if that's possible since the trucks usually have to stop in Austin and the toll road is outside of Austin, so there still will be a significant amount of trucks that have to take I-35,” Vermillion said.  “It's a nice idea but I don't know if it will work in practice.”



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