AUSTIN (KXAN) — You might start to see some traffic relief on I-35. Big rig drivers are beginning to take advantage of the state’s new toll discount starting Tuesday.
TxDOT is offering truck drivers a 33-percent discount on SH-130 and SH-45 through the end of October. The goal is to keep 18-wheelers off I-35 in Austin during rush hour.
March 31, the Texas Transportation Committee approved the lower tolls to increase mobility. The reduced tolls will be available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Previously, big rig drivers with a TxTag paid $24 in tolls. The toll amount raises to $32 if drivers pay by mail. Now truck drivers will pay $16 with a TxTag and $21 without.Phase Two
There is a second phase of toll discounts that will roll out in November. Phase number two drops the TxTag rate to just over $8. However, the pay by mail rate will stay at $21.
The program currently has funding through Aug. 31, 2017. Lawmakers are looking at possibly ending toll roads in Texas all together.
Currently, the company that operates SH-130 filed for bankruptcy protection after being unable to pay off investors. The owners of the toll accumulated more than $1.2 billion in debt.
“While we in the legislature have been wringing our hands over congestion and safety, we have done little to provide immediate relief,” said Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin. “Funding a program to reduce the tolls on the TXDOT portions of SH130 and SH 45 SE for truck traffic represents a concrete action to improve congestion without actually requiring more concrete.”