I-35 vs. SH130: What’s the best commute into downtown Austin?

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — For those traveling from the south to downtown Austin, there are a few options to get there and two of those include Interstate 35 or State Highway 130.

The only difference, you have to pay to travel on SH 130.

KXAN’s Candy Rodriguez was curious to find out if traveling on the toll road was worth the money.

Rodriguez and KXAN photographer Todd Bailey decided to test it. Rodriguez took SH130 while Bailey braved the bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-35.

They both left Buda at 8:00 on Friday morning. Each driver traveled at the designated speed limit. For the most part, Rodriguez was able to travel 80 miles per hour until she reached a construction site where the speed limit was reduced to 70 mph near Harold Green Road.

While Bailey was only able to travel 70 miles per hour on I-35 a couple of times and spent the majority of his morning commute stuck in traffic.

Chris Nieto knows that situation all too well saying, “If you leave any time after 6:15 a.m., add an extra 30 minutes to your drive.”

Nieto uses I-35 to commute around Central Texas and only depends on SH130 if there are wrecks on I-35 or he has an emergency that’s because his wallet takes a hit from the commute on the toll road.

“If I was doing it to and from every day then I was adding an extra $150 to my expenses,” he said.

In total, the SH 130 commute from Buda to downtown Austin took Rodriguez a little over 40 minutes. It took Bailey an extra 15 minutes.

Bailey may have lost time but Rodriguez ended up paying for it in tolls.

It cost around $3.50 with a TxTag. Without a TxTag, the same ride would have cost nearly $5.

“Is that worth 50 dollars extra every week to save 20 minutes a day?” asked Nieto.

Doing the math, it’s not worth, but for Nieto, there is something greater that money can’t buy: Time.

“I’ve got girls, kids, so it’s always worth saving the time so I can get there and spend more time with them,” he said.

RELATED: Southern SH 130 toll rates increasing for first time in 4 years

For drivers who use the southern section of the SH 130, starting Monday toll rates will go up. For most drivers with a TxTag, traveling along the 41-mile stretch of SH 130 will cost nine cents more to travel the full-length. It’s a 36 cent increase for 18-wheelers. This is the first increase in four years for this southern stretch between Mustang Ridge and Seguin.

The southern section of SH130 from Seguin to Mustang Ridge is the only section experiencing a toll rate increase, click HERE to see how much it’ll cost you to travel on that section of the road.

If you’re curious to know how much it’ll cost you to travel on the other sections of SH130, click HERE.

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