It's been almost three weeks since the new stretch of State Highway 130 opened on Oct. 24. Now the temporary freeway is officially a tollway. And that's how it's going to stay, for the next 50 years or so.
The new segments of SH-130, which run just south of the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to Seguin, were free to motorists until Nov. 11. Now the the toll rate has been set at $0.15 per mile for passenger vehicles with TxTag service. Vehicles without a TxTag can also use the tollway, and will be billed through a pay-by-mail service.
"With this new road, motorists can travel 90 miles of toll road and bypass I-35 congestion between Seguin and Georgetown for about $12," the Texas Department of Transportation says in a press release.
SH-130 is technically a state-owned toll road that has been developed under a public-private partnership with the SH-130 Concession Company. Under the partnership, the concession company will maintain the toll road over the next 50 years. Since the developer also financed the the highway, it removed any financial burden from Caldwell, Guadalupe and Travis counties.
TxDOT has used the opening of the 85 mph roadway as an opportunity to promote safety. The long, open stretches of road allow drivers to see many state signs reminding drivers to pay attention, buckle seatbelts, put away cell phones, use the left lane for passing only, and more. Interestingly enough, the day the roadway opened, several drivers crashed into an array of local wildlife on the highway. The state has now added wildlife warnings to existing safety signage.