By on June 7, 2012

Texas hopes that speed is addictive and will drive paying speed junkies to a new toll road that will open before the end of the year. Currently, if you want to drive 80 mph, and stay legal, you need to go to Texas or Utah, and there to pretty desolate parts. You may be able to go five miles faster on newly built Texas State Highway 130 between San Antonio and north of Austin. If approved by the Texas DOT,  Hwy 130 would be the first road in the country to have a posted 85 mile per hour speed limit, News Radio WAOI says.

It will be a toll road, and drivers need some incentive to part with their money.  Says the newsradio:

“The 85 mile an hour speed limit would be the fastest in the Western Hemisphere and the second highest in the world, according to Rhino Car Hire, a European car rental company.  It says a speed of 140 kilometers per hour, or about 86 mph, is posted on some roads in Poland.”

Ooops. And of course, there still are some stretches of the German Autobahn where you can go as fast as you can afford.

(Q-tip to Dipl. Ing Speedy.)

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92 Comments on “Texas Raises Speed Limit To 85 MPH For Paying Customers...”


  • avatar

    If it takes a toll road to get higher speed limits, I just might wind up wanting to actually use them.

    I hope the Florida Turnpike would consider something like this, then I would use it on my way to Miami instead of i95.

    D

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      Too congested for such speeds my friend! and too many minivans full of Disney-bound kiddies.

      • 0 avatar

        Actually, 95 from West Palm Beach (where I live) down to Miami is surprisingly uncontested. I can stick in the left lane and go 75 for most of the route. But it would be nice if I didn’t have to fear the cops … and I’d be willing to pay a little for that.

        I’ve never actually taken the turnpike because of this, and because I lived in Pennsylvania before moving to Florida. Not only are Pennsylvania toll roads horribly overpriced, they are also dreadfully maintained. It’s not even safe to go 65 on half those creaky old roads :(. So I’m used to thinking of toll roads quite negatively.

        D

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        I tow my boat from Ft. Laud to various spots on the FL SE coast (Homestead to Jupiter) all on the Turnpike – mainly because the idiot factor on I-95 is way too high. People merge on at 35 mph, speed up to 85, cut over 5 lanes, whip out there cell phones, razors, makeup kits, etc, then slam on the brakes, cut back over 5 lanes just to exit a mile later. No such foolishness on the Turnpike. Thus I’ve come to think that the toll “tax” is only paid by serious drivers. They paid to drive on the road, so they tend to PAY attention! Of course its not fool proof, but based on over 25 years of driving in SE FL its a reasonable bet that taking the Turnpike is faster and safer. Except during Dolphins games or lobster mini season… then all bets are off!

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        “Thus I’ve come to think that the toll “tax” is only paid by serious drivers”

        Interstate 90/94 splits on the south side of Chicago – 90 becomes the Chicago Skyway/Indiana Toll Road and 94 continues as the Dan Ryan -> Bishop Ford -> Frank Borman Expressway. The two cross each other again in eastern Lake County Indiana, leaving drivers with the choice of a “free” road and a “toll” road in the southern approach to/departure from Chicago. The speed limit is the same on both roads but the “free” road has more lanes.

        It costs almost $25.00 for a semi truck to take the toll road and about $6.00 for a car, and it is worth every penny.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    They will be parting with their money two ways, tolls and use up gas faster, oh well, it’s still cheaper than paying for track time at your local speedway, I just wonder how many people are gonna get killed by fast, stupid, bad drivers using unsafe cars.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “I just wonder how many people are gonna get killed by fast, stupid, bad drivers using unsafe cars.”

      Based on experience with the repeal of the double nickle, the number of deaths should decline.

      The best explanation I’ve heard is that the vast, vast majority of accidents aren’t caused by speed but rather inattention. People, to a very great degree, pay more attention the faster they go.

      I had an A8 doing 155 on the Autobahn and I can assure you I was paying more attention then I have ever paid to highway driving.

      • 0 avatar
        Botswana

        I’ve often said that a driver going faster then they have the skill for will likely only cause one accident. It’s the idiot going too slow and acting like an obstacle to the flow of traffic that will be the cause of many.

    • 0 avatar
      SlowMyke

      I would assume there would not be an increase in deaths. There are many expressways that already move along at 80-85mph as it is. Besides, if someone is a bad enough driver or has an unsafe car at 85 mph, they are going to be just as bad and unsafe at 65-70mph.

    • 0 avatar
      dang

      Volt 230,

      Most of the fast, stupid, bad drivers using unsafe cars are too cheap for a toll tag, and don’t have much business out where the 130 toll road goes — they tend to stick to I-35. This stretch of road is very lightly used.

      However, the standard vehicle out here in the north ‘burbs is the Tahoe/Suburban, which are top heavy, speed limited at ~95mph, and really only have brakes suitable for about ~80mph. So any accidents that do happen are going to be really unpleasant.

      It will be great for getting from Round Rock to the airport, I suppose.

    • 0 avatar
      toxicroach

      If you don’t have the skills to handle a flat, curveless multi-lane highway at 85 MPH, you shouldn’t have a driver’s license.

      I buy into the inattention thing to a degree. As the national fleet ages safety also gets better due to better safety on newer cars so it might just be a correlation not causation thing. But it’s interesting.

      It takes 10.9 hours to drive 600 miles at 55 mph.
      It takes 7.06 at 85. That’s nearly 4 hours of 0% of an accident because you aren’t driving. And of course it’s the last three hours when your most likely to accidentally fall asleep or stop paying attention. And accidents, especially on those big highways, is caused by inattention, not mechanical failure or the car exceeding its capacity.

      • 0 avatar
        afflo

        I’ll agree that a good chunk of Hill Country drivers shouldn’t have licenses! If they’d just be incompetent in the right lane, I’d be thrilled.

        Moving to the right seems natural to Texans in so many other arenas of life!

        The normal practice around here is to enter a highway, and immediately move to the lane where you feel most at home, regardless of speed. People take such offense to lane changes that the locals avoid signalling and use the element of surprise, so Beauregard Banjo McStrummy can’t block the lane change in his Fleetwood King Mack Ranch Lone-Star Special Remember-The-Alamo Limited Edition F350 with the fiberglass cover to keep the unscratched bed clean.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Having lived in Texas for a LONG time, it has changed for the worse in driver courtesy. Used to be, people would drive on the shoulder to let you pass. That’s bad for the road, but they didn’t know that.

        Things in Houston got really bad in the eighties when people moved here from many places and brought different bad habits. This was compounded by updates to the freeways that included left exits and less signage telling you what you wanted to know.

        One thing doesn’t stick for long though. The Chicago practice of honking when the lights green gets beaten out of those immigrants. They either clue in, or we send them home (in a box if necessary). Even our hospitality has limits.

  • avatar
    YellowDuck

    So, a road in North America with pretty much *exactly* the same speed limit as every autostrada in Italy? How radical!

    About time if you ask me. Maybe they could put up some “keep right except to pass signs”, and actually enforce that? This could be the start of something big!

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      Right, enforce the passing lane. Next thing you will be wanting a balanced budget! You wing nuts should stay off the interwebs. The government should cut off your online connections!

      Seriously though, I am with you brother.

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    When speeding becomes taxable only the taxed will be speeding.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    (in the not too distant future)…

    Me (at toll booth): “How much to go Baruthian speeds?”

  • avatar
    daviel

    Best way to navigate around Austin, etc is to use the toll roads. Most of us already do; and drive fast. This is just a great extra thrown in to cut down on tickets. I’d rather use up my money on tolls and gas, rather that revenue generation citations.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    I’d pay to go 75 on I-94 from the spur (north of chicago) to the WI border. Anyone in IL listening???

    This stretch of road already has almost no enforcement. So do you catch the occasional guy going 30+ and give him a $500 ticket or charge an extra $2 to EVERY MOTORIST who wants to legally go 75? Setup the toll booths already.

    Actually, this stretch of road already has a $0.90 toll and is constantly under construction. Build another lane that is +$2 for faster transport.

    Actually, if the states want a double-win, add $1 gas tax as well. Pay to go faster (use more gas) and end up paying more taxes as well.

    • 0 avatar
      semaj82

      This.

      In fact, I’d like to see this for 294 & 355 as well. Illinois under-posts speed to a degree where it isn’t safe. When the majority of cars on 94 between Lake Cook and Gurnee are going 85, those people who follow the 55 mph speed limit to the letter are endangering themselves and others.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        @semaj82, I drove through Illinois in July 2011 on the way to visit my parents in Ohio. Took I55 to I70 and maybe it was just the rural counties out there but the road was as thick with cops as I remember Ohio being during my misspent youth (1992-2000). My radar was going off what seemed like half the time and you damn well better slow down when you saw the smokies or you’d find yourself with a ticket.

        My point? IL does underpost like crazy, 55 EFFING miles per hour in the middle of nowhere!

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Most people go 75 on that road already, except cars with Wisconsin plates. Any WI plate is a rolling traffic jam.

  • avatar
    turtletop

    To celebrate our new toll road, the Texas Department of Transportation would like to ask your help. Would the people in the cheaper lanes clap your hands. And the rest of you, if you’ll just rattle your jewelry.

  • avatar
    alluster

    You can live in a dump called NYC, pay a $12 toll to sit in bumper to bumper traffic all day or move to Texas and pay a $2 toll to drive 85MPH. Choices, Choices.

    • 0 avatar
      supersleuth

      Yeah, nobody wants to live in NYC. That’s why there’s a glut of available housing there, and it’s so much cheaper to live there than in Texas.

      Here’s a free clue: you’re entitled to your preferences, but plenty of people don’t happen to share them, no matter how mystifying that may be to you.

      • 0 avatar
        afflo

        Funny how I hear this logic so often from folks who believe unwaveringly in the magic of the free market. The desirability of certain locales is built into the prices.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        Austin and the Hill Country to it’s West is a great place to live. However, the traffic is pretty bad. This toll road is a bypass around Austin on the less popular East side.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Afflo, that’s only true in a free market. Just say’n.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        I was born and raised in New York, and went to NYC for school between grades 6 and 12. Lived there most of my life. I moved to Texas about a year ago. Iff’n y’all like NYC metro area so much, ye can keep it.

        Me, I’d much rather keep more of my money, have a bigger piece of property and a nicer house, and be able to watch movies of all sorts (first run as well as revivals/cult films/festivals) without worrying about some ghetto or guido trash gabbing or texting on their damn cellphone. Also, I friggin’ love the TX gun culture. Perfect for someone who’s bored with computers.

        As far as prices go in NYC, I’m curious to see what happens when debt mathematics finally intersect with the real economy, and what happens to the balance sheets of all those banks that drive so much of the entire NYC economy (from service jobs to rents to costs of living).

    • 0 avatar
      indyb6

      Futurama Fry
      “Not sure if its Sarcasm, or an honest thought”

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      Traffic in NYC is fairly bad but…what toll are you talking about? There’s free roads into NYC from both Long Island and Upstate. Most of the time when I’m driving into NYC I pay nothing, the only times I pay are when I’m too lazy to take the free route.

      If you come from New Jersey well…don’t blame that on NYC lol.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    WAHOOOOOO! hit it.

  • avatar
    Dukeboy01

    Seems to me with such a toll road that the speed limit would absolutely be 85 mph. Not 90. No “10 over” cushion. They can mark the time that you entered, mark the time you exited, do the math, and if your average speed was greater than 85 mph they could send you a ticket in the mail. They could pass some sort of special legislation dealing with the toll road specifically and start handing out fines based on tenth of a mile increments. Give a 3.5 mph average cushion to account for hills and such and then hit people with a $10 fine for every tenth of a mile over. Require the exclusive use of EZ- Pass or some similar system in order to use the road and you wouldn’t have to even bother patroling it except to respond to requests for assistance.

    It would be hard to have much of a gripe with such a system. The state’s position would be “Look, we gave you people a dedicated road with the second highest speed limit in the world and you still had to exceed the limt? Screw you and pay up.” If they really wanted to be “fair,” they could use the same system to hit people who drove too slowly (Say an average speed less than 70 mph) with tickets for obstructing traffic. Keep the RVs and geezers off of the Texasbahn.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Ward

      No offense intended to you but “No cushion,” “Special legislation,” “the state,” “Require the .. use of,” “Give a 3.5 mph average cushion to account for hills and such and then hit people with a $10 fine for every tenth of a mile over (!?!)” – I’m wary of all those statements, as any libertarian should be.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Why would any elected official in Texas want to end their career by pissing off voters by mailing speeding tickets? Remember that even judges have to face the voters around here. Speed limits function more like a don’t exceed this by more than 10 mph suggestion. However, do something stupid while speeding and speeding gives the police a measurable objective reason to make a stop.

    • 0 avatar
      Joba

      GR8, I’ll do the math too and pull over for an Ice tea and a burger 2 miles before my actual exit.

    • 0 avatar
      SpinnyD

      The Florida bee line used to be like that, except for mailing the ticket. They would just hand it to you with your change.

    • 0 avatar
      daviel

      Anymore down here your cushion is about 5 mph. So you can drive 90 all day long.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      The reality is that most folks drive 70-75 when the speed limit is 65, and they still drive 70-75 out West where the speed limit is 70 or 75. Even myself, though I am usually in some crap rental car out West. People don’t magically go 10 over just because of what the speed limit is, they drive the pace they feel comfortable driving, which is why speed limits are SUPPOSED to be set to the 85th percentile speed of traffic in the first place. There will be no more “low fliers” than there are now.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Italy permits 150 km/h (94 mph) limits on autostrada that have at least three travel lanes in one direction, although I’m not clear whether those limits actually exist.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    I drive on I-10 East/West out of El Paso often, and I have found that 85mph is what most traffic flows at, even the 18-wheelers.

    Still, I get passed up like I’m going backwards by some people because the Cruise Control on my vehicles will not let me set beyond 85mph.

    If toll roads in Texas come to pass, as a measure for increased revenue, most people will pay it and maybe it will keep some of the junk traffic like Mexican used-car caravans off these roads.

    Those are the pits! They cause people not part of these slow-moving used-car caravans headed to Mexico and points farther South to have to change to the left lane to pass them and risk getting run over by 18-wheelers doing 85-90mph.

    You haven’t lived until you see a Peterbilt, Volvo, Freightliner or Kenworth barreling up behind you in your rear-view and have to hit the gas to get the hell out of the way or get run over.

    I’ve never seen a Texas cop of any kind give a citation on the Interstates. That doesn’t mean that they don’t. I’m sure they do for blatant offenders. It means that it is not a common sight because most traffic already flows at 85mph on the Interstates.

    • 0 avatar
      MeaCulpa

      That would be very scary, a loaded truck has a braking distance at about 100 yards from 55 to zero, at 85 (presuming the tires doesn’t blow) the distance should be something like 250 yards.

    • 0 avatar
      daviel

      DPS hands out tickets all the time on I-35 and I-45. I wouldn’t let your guard down on I-10 either.

      • 0 avatar
        Botswana

        Yup. Things might have changed in the past year, but Dallas PD usually gives crap all about speeders on I-35E. They have real crimes to worry about. I had some friends on the force for a long time but we’ve lost touch so not sure if it is still that way.

        Still, get comfortable speeding and suddenly you’ll see a State Trooper’s black & white behind you. A lot of the suburbs though are brutal. Irving in particular has gotten ridiculously strict even though one of the local highways is really posted too low. I had a meeting and watched out the conference room window as 3 people were pulled over in a 30 minute timespan.

        The police try to make it sound like speed traps are a matter of public safety, but it is interesting how as different local governments have become more cash strapped I’ve seen a lot of speed traps in locales that used to barely bother. There was some controversy some years ago about how the Dallas County Constables spend more time setting up speed traps then serving warrants.

        For those that don’t know, the purpose of county constables in Texas is to serve warrants on behalf of the county judges. They’d rather spend time writing tickets then arresting bad guys.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    Folks, Texas 130 and 45 have been toll roads since day 1 of their existence.

    Highway 130 parallels Interstate 35 and is a bit underutilized, even though I-35 is often gridlocked. Raising the speed limit is a bone to get more people to use Highway 130.

    • 0 avatar
      afflo

      The whole route isn’t complete yet though. There’s the 130 loop that runs around Austin, but the southern part of the 130 toll road that connects in Seguin to relieve the 35 corridor between SA and Austin isn’t completed. Looked like it was pretty close last time I drove through there though.

      Seems this is more to make up for the fact that driving west on 10 to Seguin and THEN north is out of the way. Add an extra 10-15 miles to the 80 mile trip, and charge for the privilege, and you better have some kind of incentive to save time.

  • avatar
    TexN

    Driven on this stretch MANY times. It is currently still not very busy at all. I have many friends who absolutely refuse to drive on the toll roads. They view it as an act of civil disobedience against the government. I’m no fan of the government but if toll roads allow for highways to be built instead of two lane roads supporting insane amounts of residential traffic due to subdivisions (I’m looking at you, Atlanta!), then I say let’s build toll roads.
    Tex

    • 0 avatar
      Crosley

      I have the same feeling.

      I’m not a fan of toll roads because I feel like it just gives the government one more revenue stream and frees up money for bureaucrats to try and buy more votes with, but if it’s the only way roads are going to be built (and they can allow higher speed) I can support it.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      The small gubmint types should love toll roads – it’s the dreamboat a la carte government model practiced in real life. They should also embrace gas taxes by that same token.

      The thing about this line of thinking makes me wonder why Texans vote to have a big chunk of their taxation through property taxes. That just seems to be the opposite of what small government types want.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        You don’t get small government types. Some like toll roads for the reason you say, but most realize it’s a trick. They make toll roads so they can use the money they were supposed to spend on freeways on other things while creating even more entrenched fiefdoms like toll road authorities and toll worker unions.

        We keep the property tax because it’s been less trouble, though they are trying to make it more trouble to get an income tax. We vote down income taxes because it just adds another layer of government, gives law makers more power to spread favors, and it’s nobody’s gosh dern business how much we make or spend. Also, it’s really hard to hide real estate from the taxman, so cheaters have a harder time.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        “it’s nobody’s gosh dern business how much we make or spend.”

        True – but if you loose your job you no longer owe income taxes. In Texas, you lose your job (or retire with a lower income) and you’re still on the hook for $750 a month, even if you own your $300k house free and clear.

      • 0 avatar
        Botswana

        I grew up in Austin and even worked for one of the local county Sheriff’s office (Yes, there are actually 2 with the way the city limits sits). Austin is not like the rest of Texas. Having moved to Dallas in 2000 I’ve since found out most residents consider it “Little San Francisco” and having grew up there I can see why. Austin is not exactly full of “little gubmint types” even if it is the home of Rick Perry.

        I’m not sure how it is in most states, but there is far more idealogical diversity in Texas then it usually gets credit far. Sure, it is heavily conservative, but the entire state is not populated by a bunch of good ole boys in cowboy hats driving pick-ups.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Jmc,
        That overstates the actual level of taxation, and you can get deferments, and it will be years before they come to force a sale which you can prolong in many ways. I am actually planning to work with my state rep to reduce the taxes by decreasing the cost of the appraisal process.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    Ray “The Hood” LaHood will be all over this calling it “irresponsible, dangerous to undocumented worker used car caravans, increasing pollution, a threat to innocent armadillos and Rick Perry’s folly”

  • avatar
    dude500

    If the “speed limit” is 85mph, can I go 94mph without being ticketed?

  • avatar
    LBJs Love Child

    Just think of it as an 85MPH drive-thru lane to get kolaches in La Grange. It’s the only sweet roll still for sale there.

    http://www.weikels.com/

    I’ve been using the 130/45 toll road loop to avoid Austin since the roads opened.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Soon to be renamed The Baruth Parkway.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    If I pay a bit more, can I get a permit to play with my iPhone at speed?

  • avatar
    dave504

    Wow!! I never thought I’d see the exit to my house on TTAC, but here we are. I took highway 130 for 2.5 years for the 30+ mile commute to my job until a year ago. I can confirm that it is mostly empty, and provides a quick and easy way to bypass the horrid traffic on I35.

    The de facto speed limit was always about 85, but that did not change once the speed limits were raised to 80. I believe that speeds will increase and the tollway will be more heavily utilized when the F1 track opens, as 130 is right next to it.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    It’s amazing the moralistic crap that some people spew when it comes to highways. Look folks, highways are a network, just like the Internet or the telephone network. Networks are a positive-sum game; they increase everyone’s well-being. The construction of the Interstate highway system in the U.S. provided a tremendous economic benefit, because it was much more flexible (and therefore better) than the network it partially replaced — the railroads. It also was generally faster, even for freight.

    Increasing the capacity or speed of a network is a good thing. How many of you folks still use dial-up Internet service? At the same time, if a 2Mb DSL line is good enough for you, why should you have to pay for a 100Mb fiber optic Internet connection? Or, conversely, why should the person who wants a 100Mb connection not be able to buy it, if he’s willing to pay?

    Certainly high-speed roads should be operated so as not to kill people, but that’s pretty much a solved problem: enforce lane discipline, signaling, stuff like that. An awful lot of that is road design: banked curves, proper entrances and exits.

    Time spent in transit is money; less time means less money, whether its people or stuff we’re talking about. So, this is a good thing.

  • avatar
    Zombo

    Hell here in NJ people zip down Route 80 at that speed every day . Whether or not they get caught depends on the time of day and amount of traffic . On that road you are more likely to be ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt than speeding . Unless there is a crackdown going on and that quickly becomes apparent with cars being pulled over every few miles . I can see that for the vast stretches of interstate out west since people routinely exceed the limit and get passed by the cops while doing so without being pulled over .

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    Just don’t complain about the cost of fuel. Isn’t there an exponential penalty in fuel mileage at 85 MPH? And I would think the effect is amplified in trucks and SUVs.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      No, the increase is not exponential, at least for anything reasonably sized and aerodynamic. At US speeds of typically a 70mph average on a long trip my car gets 30mpg. In Germany last summer, I averaged 101mph between Stuttgart and Berlin (400 miles), and got 25mpg. And this on a car just barely out of its breakin period. I’d GLADLY pay the extra in gas to cover ground that quickly on this side of the pond!

      That 101mph average included a fair amount of speed limited running too, but I was on the speed limiter at 135mph for the majority of the unlimited parts. It was a Sunday, no truck traffic. Anyone who wonders why German cars are the way they are needs to do that trip.

  • avatar
    replica

    It’s already standard to do 80+ once you get inside the beltway in Houston.

  • avatar
    redliner

    I dare say that many people, especially those who live in large cities already drive 85 on their way to work. At least it would seem that way on the capital beltway.

    Make it 95mph and I’ll pay.

  • avatar
    rickyc

    I take these on a daily basis on my commute. Nothing gets me going on a weekday morning than the rush of 95-100mph in my BMW 135i. It just feels so good at high speeds

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Speed limits should be dictated by the design speed of the highway and the flow of traffic, not by how much it costs to use it.

    In that sense, this is a bad precedent. If Texas can justify 85 mph limits for this road, then there must be other free roads that are equally well suited to that limit. Pay-to-play doesn’t make for good law; the legislature shouldn’t be setting speed limits based upon a profit motive.

    • 0 avatar
      LBJs Love Child

      “Speed limits should be dictated by the design speed of the highway and the flow of traffic, not by how much it costs to use it.”

      It is on 130 (design speed + traffic density). As for other free roads nearby that can handle 85 mph… they don’t exist, due to traffic density primarily.

      At it’s current 80 mph speed limit around Austin, 130 actually saves me time and money to use it, and lowers my carbon footprint by not idling in stop-and-go traffic. More speed, fewer unburned hydrocarbons = win win.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Again, the speed limit should have nothing to do with the cost of the road. If the road can support an 85 mph limit with a toll, then it can support it without the toll. The revenue generated by the road should not be the determining factor for limiting speed.

    • 0 avatar
      MeaCulpa

      Presuming that a toll road, all other things being equal, has less traffic I would say that it makes sense to have a higher posted speed.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Presuming that a toll road, all other things being equal, has less traffic I would say that it makes sense to have a higher posted speed.”

        That would depend. If the traffic flow of the toll road is faster and there are no good reasons to slow it down, then that would be true. Otherwise, no.

        The speed limit should be set based upon a speed survey. I doubt that the 85th or 90th percentile speed is as high as 85 mph, but if it is and the road can handle it, then 85 mph would be a reasonable limit.

        But that same approach should be used for all of the highways, not just the toll roads. There should be no speed penalty applied to a road simply because it’s free.

  • avatar
    LBJs Love Child

    @Pch101

    I think the story is misleading you.

    Pretty much ALL new highways in Texas are being built as not only toll roads, but as public-private ventures. The 85 MPH speed limit has almost nothing to do with the funding source (except to attract customers willing to pay for the privilege), and everything to do with being a brand-spankin’-new high-speed (by design) rural highway, meant to alleviate traffic-congestion on I-35 between north Austin and San Antonio.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “The 85 MPH speed limit has almost nothing to do with the funding source”

      If I understand the law, the 85 mph limit can only be applied only to newly constructed roads. That would suggest that older roads aren’t eligible, even if the design standards support the higher speeds (which they should) and if the 85th percentile speed would justify a higher limit.

      As I noted, I oppose any speed limits that are revenue-driven. This approach makes it sound like a gimmick — if the road isn’t privatized, then you get a lower limit even when it isn’t justified.

      • 0 avatar
        LBJs Love Child

        You still miss it. There IS NO NEW highway without privatization, and without adding capacity, the traffic and air pollution get worse in the Austin/San Antonio corridor. Look at the picture at the top of the page. That IS NOT a pre-opening shot, but represents current mid-day conditions on the open section of 131.

        As you probably know, most new highway construction is built for speeds well in excess of the intended posted limit. The design speed of 131 is probably >100 mph (shallow ramps and curves, wide clearances under overpasses, extremely wide medians, steep super-elevations in all curves).

        If you know of some funding source to build Interstate bypasses like this one, then by all means share them. In Texas, they need to be built (thank you, NAFTA), and the public funding has dried up.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        My comments were based upon my recollection that Perry was pushing this exclusively for his toll road corridor. That would be worth complaining about — there should be no speed penalty for driving on a road that isn’t privatized.

        However, I just read the law, and the 85 mph limit is not restricted to toll roads. That’s fine, just so long as it is fairly applied:
        __________

        Notwithstanding Section 545.352(b), as amended by Chapters 663 (H.B. 385) and 739 (H.B. 1075), Acts of the 76th Legislature, Regular Session, 1999, the commission may establish a speed limit not to exceed 85 miles per hour on a part of the state highway system if:

        (1) that part of the highway system is designed to accommodate travel at that established speed or a higher speed; and

        (2) the commission determines, after an engineering and traffic investigation, that the established speed limit is reasonable and safe for that part of the highway system.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    I’m surprised it took this long. I remember driving through Texas back in the 55mph days. Going through Houston at 80 and being passed, by a freaking VW.

  • avatar
    xantia10000

    Hi everyone,

    Last year I moved from the US to Germany, and I regularly use the Autobahn. Where I live, the speed limit is variable (via overhead LED signage) — in bad weather or high traffic density, the limit typically varies between 100 and 140 km/h (approx. 60 – 85 mph). In good conditions, there is no limit.

    What I have observed driving here for the past 10 months:
    1. On most roads, trucks are forbidden from the left-most lane. They usually stick to the right lane in what looks like one big moving wall o’ truck.

    2. German drivers follow the speed limit. If the overhead LED sign brightly indicates ’100,’ drivers will drive 100.

    3. Even when the speed limit is not limited, I’d say about 85 – 90 % of drivers go about 130 – 140 km/h (about 75 – 85 mph). I’d guess this has to do with the high cost of fuel here.

    4. But… you really have to watch out for fast drivers in the left-most lane. You can be going 140 in the middle lane, and then off in the horizon a 2 ton mass of German engineering (typically Audis and BMWs, rarely Benzes) rapidly appears in your rear view mirror, probably going upwards of 200 km/h (130 mph and above). You best be careful if you’re gonna move into the left lane!

    5. You rarely see cops patrolling the road. Just speed cameras (called Blitzers). These are another reason that people drive the posted limit.

    6. Road rage and left-lane drivers rarely exist here. Even though Germans love driving and are often fast and aggressive, people are still courteous. That means they move over if you are behind them, and even let people cut in front of them. It’s more of a group mentality than the individual mentality in the States. People here usually don’t get pissed off if you are driving faster than they are (cuz there is always someone driving faster than you). They just move over and let the fast driver carry on.

    7. Licensure is much stricter and more expensive in Germany than in the US. If you want a license here, you have to actually know the rules of the road, take a strict driving test, and pay thousands of Euros for the privilege to drive. It’s not a “right to drive,” as it sometimes seems in the US.

    8. Cars must be strictly maintained here. Every year you must pass inspection, meaning tires, suspension, brakes, steering, etc, is habitually checked and should be in good working order. In the US, this rule varies state-by-state.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Rr the cars in the German scrapyards are in better shape than many found on roads in the US… Just sayin’!

    • 0 avatar
      Botswana

      Texas has state inspections. I used to curse that until I had a consulting gig in Oklahoma and saw all the rust buckets that were still allowed to drive. There is something to be said for requiring a yearly inspection.

      That said, I think Texas probably has fewer clunkers on the road than your average state.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Add to that the absence of sloppy handling and braking SUV’s. pickups and white Ford E series work vans to make the roads safer for all.

  • avatar
    markinaustin

    Appropriately, this is the main highway serving the new Formula 1 circuit.


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