SH 130: First Impressions

I rarely if ever travel north of Braker Ln, but this past weekend, I had to trek up to 1431 (no, it wasn’t to go to Ikea). I’d heard about the I-35 closing at Hester’s Crossing (which is happening again this coming weekend, btw), so I decided to avoid that and try out SH 130 for the first time.

SH 130 now extends from 71, just east of the airport all the way to Georgetown. I took it from 71 to 79, just north of 45, since the construction also involved detours at 45. There’s still a lot of construction going on at the 130 and 71 intersection. Many of the direct flyovers aren’t complete and, in fact, westbound traffic on 71 was backed up for as far as I could see due to a detour. Luckily, I just had to sit through a short light and a Travis County Sheriff directing traffic. The section between 290 and 71 is new enough that it doesn’t appear on Google Maps.

There are toll plazas and toll ramps. The prices at the ramps and plazas vary, depending on your method of payment. You’ve got three options: toll tag, cash and mail. Toll tag is the cheapest and mail is the most expensive. Toll plazas have attendants while the ramps do not which means that if you’re paying cash at the ramps, you need exact change. Since i didn’t plan ahead, I went with cash. You can view a full table of the pricing here. The cash price for plazas is $1.50 and $0.50 for ramps on SH 130. Apparently, Austin toll roads accept Houston and Dallas toll tags. I’m not sure if the opposite is true.

The first toll plaza I encountered was between 969 and 973. I paid $1.50. The next toll plaza was at 45, another $1.50 and then a toll ramp on the exit to 79, another $0.50. $3.50 to go from 71 to 79. I didn’t encounter any traffic. In fact, I was speeding most of the time and probably passed 15 cars, if that. There’s almost nothing along the side of the highway from 71 to 79, so if you’re low on gas, load up before you head onto SH 130.

SH 130 is pretty far east, so I’m not sure that I’d take it again unless I know about another major I-35 closing. It looks like they plan to eventually have it rejoin I-35 south of Austin, but the last segment mentioned in the current project ends at 183. Once the segment to I-35 south of town is completed, it’d be a pretty good way to bypass Austin traffic completely. The site claims late 2007 as the completion date for the segment to 183, but they haven’t finished it yet. They’re clearly running behind schedule.

1 Comment so far

  1. GMT (unregistered) on February 11th, 2008 @ 10:34 pm

    I’ve used 130 a few times now when driving from San Antonio to Georgetown (and back). At low traffic times (e.g. 8AM on a Sat), 35 through Austin isn’t an issue, but at heavier traffic times (e.g. 4PM on a Friday afternoon) it can make a tremendous difference. One Friday afternoon I was able to make it from Georgetown to San Marcos in less than an hour by using 130, and this is prior to it connecting to 35 on the south side. I’ve spent an hour in downtown on 35 during that same time period before. SH 130 will actually only run to 183 and then 45se will run from 183 to 35 near Creedmoor to complete the "outer loop" around Austin. Construction on the 45se connection to 35 is well underway (as those who’ve driven in the area are probably aware). It looks like they are working from multiple points and hoping the roads meet up in the right spot eventually.

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