This is a taxpayer funded BAILOUT of the SH 130 foreign-owned toll road. The state of Texas needs to terminate this contract immediately and take this highway back. It's an absolute OUTRAGE that TxDOT is using tax money to give truckers discount toll rates while autos pay the sticker price. Of course, the state can artificially make the traffic appear higher than it would be otherwise with this not so veiled bailout. This sort of manipulation to prop-up a failure only prolongs the inevitable, which is bankruptcy. Terminate it and get this road back for the taxpayers.
TxDOT works to bring toll discounts back to truckers on SH 130
By Amanda Brandeis
August 1, 2014
AUSTIN (KXAN) — Interstate 35 is a major artery in our city, but is often clogged with traffic. The Texas Department of Transportation says it has a solution.
The department again wants to lower tolls for big rigs on the SH 130 toll road, hoping to push truckers off the interstate. The stretch of I-35 that runs through downtown from U.S. 183 down to SH 71 is the most congested stretch of roadway in Texas, according to TxDOT.
During a pilot program in 2013, the number of trucks on SH 130 rose 44 percent. But the program ended when the funds dried up.
Without the toll discount, truck drivers like Clifford Williams can’t foot the bill.
GOING IN-DEPTH // Toll Road Troubles
• The company that operates the SH 130 toll road is still trying to fight its way out of a big financial hole.
• Last month, Moody’s Investors Services announced it considers the toll road project ‘in default’ for failing to make is full debt payment for June.
• KXAN reported in June that the SH 130 Concession Company was $1 billion in debt but only had a little more than $3 million in cash on hand.
“I have taken it on occasion when traffic gets extremely backed up, which is usually each and every day,” he said. “But I cannot afford, at that price, to take it three times a week.”
Williams says if he could utilize the toll road more it would mean more productivity and would like to see the program come back.
“It would save me approximately one to two hours depending on the day, week or event going on in Austin.”
If approved by the Texas Legislature the truck toll discount program would cost $20 million per year. It would most likely start in September 2015.
Link to article here.
SH 130 tolls could be cut for truckers
By Michael Theis
Austin Business Journal
August 1, 2014
Hoping to siphon off some of the truckers that use I-35 to get through Austin, the Texas Department of Transportation is proposing lower tolls for trucks on State Highway 130, the Austin American-Statesman reports.
According to the paper, it's a revival of a successful pilot program first offered in 2013 that offered significant toll discounts to trucks traveling on SH 130 east of Austin. The program, designed to last one year, ended much sooner than expected as the $11 million fund created by TxDOT ran dry. Highway officials said this showed the popularity of the program.
It is estimated that it will cost $20 million per year to fund the new truck toll discount on SH 130, according to the Statesman. TxDOT officials are considering running the new discount program for two years, beginning in September 2015.
The proposal was presented before the Texas Transportation Commission Thursday, and commissioners will soon decide if it will bring the proposal before the legislature for funding, according to the report.
Michael Theis is the Austin Business Journal's digital editor.