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Texas offering trucks incentive discounts on Austin bypass

The toll discount for trucks is an inventive to reduce truck traffic on I-35 through the Austin area. (The Trucker file photo)

The Associated Press

2/1/2013

AUSTIN, Texas — The old adage “build it and they will come” apparently has worked when it comes to trucks using the new toll bypass around Austin, so the Texas Transportation Commission has decided to provide an incentive.

In an effort to help reduce traffic congestion on Interstate 35, the commission voted  to reduce tolls on State Highway 130 (from I-35 to U.S. 183) and State Highway 45SE for trucks.

From Feb. 4 to March 3, truck drivers who choose to travel non-stop between Georgetown and Buda on the SH 130/SH 45SE toll bypass will pay the passenger vehicle (two-axle) toll rate of $11 or less.

For trucks with four axles or more, the discount provides more than a 67 percent discount. The toll discount for trucks is extended as an incentive to reduce truck traffic on I-35 through the Austin area.

Interstate 35, from SH 71 to US 183, is the fourth-most congested roadway in Texas. Last year, families on vacation, commuters traveling to work and truckers moving shipments experienced more than 4.6 million hours of delay.

"Our goal is to address congestion and help people get to their destinations faster than sitting on I-35 through Austin," said Phil Wilson, TxDOT executive director. "This is a great way to have trucks try SH 130 and see its benefits."

The Texas Department of Transportation first offered the truck toll discount in late 2011 ending in January 2012. During that time, truck toll transactions increased more than 49 percent on both SH 130 and SH 45SE, and toll transactions for passenger vehicles increased 10 percent for the same period over the previous year.

Toll rates on other Austin-area toll roads, including Loop 1, SH 45N, US 183A, US 290 East and SH 130 Segments 5 & 6 (from Mustang Ridge to Seguin) will remain unchanged during the promotion.

TxDOT cannot offer this discount permanently, since it must repay debt on toll revenues pledged, Wilson said..

For the lowest toll rates throughout the year, drivers are encouraged to purchase a TxTag. Purchasing a tag is easy and can be done by calling 1-888-468-9824, or visiting www.txtag.org.

While cash payment is no longer an option when using SH 130 and other Austin area toll roads, drivers can still pay by mail. Rates for the Pay-By-Mail (PBM) option are a third higher than TxTag rates to offset the costs related to processing the toll charges, and a $1.15 fee is applied to each monthly bill.

 The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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