Toll roads are often maligned in the trucking world. Many carriers have been known to route their movements away from them in an effort to save a few bucks. This reputation is misguided, however, as toll roads can offer fleets the most valuable gift of all: time.
This is especially true for carriers moving freight through Central Texas.
The southern section of State Highway 130 between Austin and San Antonio is a publicly owned toll road, privately operated by SH 130 Concession Co. The 41-mile stretch of road gives commuters and carriers alike the opportunity to move through Central Texas as quickly — and safely — as possible by bypassing a large chunk of Interstate 35.
“SH 130 plays an integral role in the Texas transportation industry,” said Mike Razniewski, SH 130 Concession Company director of business development. “I-35 is the main artery of freight through the United States, with Laredo being the busiest cross-border transportation hub to our south. We also have DFW to the north, one of the largest transportation hubs in the US.”
Not only is I-35 the main thoroughfare through Texas, it is also notoriously congested.
Traveling all 41 miles of the southern segments of the SH 130 toll road will cost drivers about $32. The value proposition lies primarily in saved time, a commodity that invariably aligns with money in the transportation world. When factoring in costs associated with traffic congestion on I-35 in central Texas like decreased MPG on fuel and late fees on shipments, SH 130 can save drivers 2-3 times the cost of the toll.
While exact savings depend on how congested I-35 is at any given time, opting for SH 130 always affords fleets one significant perk: predictability. Because SH 130 is always free flowing, drivers know that — 99% of the time — they can reach their destination within 15 minutes of their arrival estimate, according to Razniewski. When traveling via I-35, on the other hand, that same arrival statistic is only about 18%.
Not all savings can be easily calculated in dollars and cents. The congestion-free and well-maintained pavement associated with SH 130 also drive down costs by increasing fuel economy, reducing wear and tear on vehicles and improving the overall driver experience.
In addition to these operational efficiencies, SH 130 offers temporary rebates and other incentives to qualifying fleets interested in utilizing the toll road. The organization is particularly dedicated to helping Texas-based carriers optimally route through the corridor.
Infrastructure developments throughout both Texas and Mexico — coupled with numerous ongoing near-shoring efforts — have led to a rapid increase in truck traffic across the Lone Star State. This rise, along with Texas population growth, has compounded congestion on I-35.
While traffic on SH 130 has also increased, overcrowding has not been an issue. In fact, overall traffic levels on SH 130 have grown 47% since 2019, and vehicles continue to move freely down the roadway.
“We have the capacity to be able to handle this traffic for years to come,” Razniewski said.