Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Highway Robbery

Austin has decided to add toll roads to ease the congestion on the I-35 corridor from just north of Georgetown to south of Austin. Toll road 130 now runs from Georgetown to hwy 71... Just north of downtown where all the congestion actually is. Well the good news for me (or so I thought) is that I live just west of where the toll road stops, so maybe I could save time and headaches.
My commute is about 30 miles all total. I'm driving against traffic both ways, so with a 65mph speed limit on the interstate it takes me 25-35 minutes on a normal day. Add 15-20 minutes going home around the Christmas season due to all the shopping centers I pass. I keep hearing on the news how few cars use the toll road, that and a lack of shopping would seem to make it ideal for me. The blue route on the map is I-35, the red Route is the 130 toll road.
A week or so ago I hopped on the toll road for a test run. There were three cars going the same way as I, and I passed about three cars a mile going the other way. No traffic at all. This was great.
First toll booth... $1.50. OK, three dollars a day to save time on a big empty six lane highway, no big deal. I handed the girl my quarters and off I went.
Second toll booth... $1.50. Now it's three bucks each way. That's a little more than I wanted to pay, but, oh well... no traffic at all around me because the other cars had a TXTag (a prepaid account that allows you to keep driving instead of stopping at the booth).
Third toll booth... $1.50. Now I'm scrambling in my cup holders and on the dash to find enough change. Not only that but I'm up to $4.50 each way. That's $9 round trip. That's almost double what I spend on lunch.
I work six days a week. That comes to $54... About the same amout that I spend on gas in the same time period.
Over $200 a month. That's more than my light bill... And I have an old, non energy effecient house.
Totaled up that is a whopping $2800 a year. I could buy a huge Plasma screen TV. I could fly home to North Carolina to see Ma every other month. I could go to Europe on vacation.
Not to mention that because I had to stop at each booth it added ten minutes to the drive, and it dumps me out on regular roads several miles further from my house than 35 does so add another ten minutes. Now it's nine bucks a day, and as much as twenty minutes longer each way on a normal day.
What about the TXTag? that'll save time and money. You get a 10% discount if you use TXTag. So instead of $2800 a year it's only $2500 a year and it'll only take 10 extra minutes. Whoopie.
I'll take the traffic. If I ever figure out this ipod thing, I'll just carry some cool tunege. Hell if I don't use the toll road I can buy the best ipod out there in under two months.



At November 22, 2007 11:56 AM, Blogger Sal Costello said...

You don't know half of it....That toll road and others coming are built with our tax AND Bond dollars (that were promised to be spent of free roads!)

My "Muckraker" blog has studied this corruption for the past 2 years:


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