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The faster alternative to I-35 reaches all-time high traffic

SH130 is becoming increasingly popular with drivers. (SH 130 Concession Company, LLC)

A Central Texas highway is gaining favor over I-35 for some drivers, a trend fueled by the region's tech hub status and rapidly growing populations.

Traffic on the southern end of Texas State Highway 130 has skyrocketed and reached an all-time high last year, according to a new report by the highway operator.

The toll road, which stretches 91 miles from north of Austin to Seguin, is marketed by the concession company operating it as "a high-speed alternative to Interstate 35," with the company running the southern section since 2012.

“More drivers are choosing SH 130 than ever before because it provides the only high-speed alternative to I-35 between two of the nation’s fastest-growing metro areas—and it’s safe, predictable and enjoyable to drive,” said Doug Wilson, CEO of SH 130 Concession Company.

SH130 is one of the the fastest highways in the country at a speed limit of 85 mph. (SH 130 Concession Company, LLC)

A few factors, including pandemic recovery, population growth and increased development along the corridor, have driven the increased traffic. Last year, the operators counted a 3.7 million increase in the number of people driving on SH 130 between Austin and San Antonio, with a total of more than 9.7 million.

Wilson described the corridor as the “epicenter of development in Central Texas.” Located in the "Texas Triangle," the concession company touts that it's a reliable route for commercial drivers moving goods to and from Texas' southern ports and the international airports in the region. Plus, some tech giants could also be upping traffic on SH 130.

“With Tesla recently opening its manufacturing facility on the corridor and a massive new Samsung facility on the horizon, we expect these development and traffic trends along this corridor to continue,” Wilson said.

With an 85 mph speed limit— the highest in the country—and a minimum of two lanes in each direction, congestion isn't completely avoidable. Last year’s traffic exceeded pre-pandemic levels. And heavy traffic also saw a high boost, increasing 50%.

But crashes haven't risen with the traffic. They actually decreased last year to an estimated 34 crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.


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