Ben Wear and a colleague have run another experiment comparing SH 130 to I-35. The trip around Austin on SH 130 was 22 minutes faster than the trip straight through town on I-35. This even though I-35 was not particularly congested during their experiment. Wear averaged 70 mph on SH 130; his colleague, 50 mph. (I-35 was nine minutes faster in the first experiment, but this was before SH 130 had been linked to I-35 via a limited-access highway.)
I admit I'm surprised SH 130 was so much faster. But I am not surprised by this:
Texas 130, so far, is falling short, revenue-wise, of what were already modest expectations from TxDOT. For the six months ending Feb. 28 , revenue for the road was $1.6 million. That's about 12 percent under expectations. Traffic, however, is nearly 18 percent above projections.
The relative absence of 18-wheelers, which pay four times what a car does, could partially explain that anomaly. I have seen very few of them on my three rush-hour trips on Texas 130. I-35, on the other hand, as anyone who drives it knows, remains choked with big rigs. Andrea's passenger counted more than 225 on I-35 during their drive; I saw less than a dozen.
Most truckers apparently don't think the time-versus-money tradeoff is worth it.
TxDOT is charging truckers too much money to save too little time. Truckers have to pay $25 in tolls and an extra $12 or so in diesel to save 22 minutes, which means truckers must value their time at more than $100 per hour to make the switch. They obviously do not. And so I-35 continues to be clogged with big rigs while SH 130's faster lanes remain virtually truck-free.
Under a rational congestion-pricing system, drivers are charged for causing congestion, not for avoiding congestion. TxDOT's pricing system is the precise opposite.