The new Texas Highway that was approved by the Texas Transportation Commission to have an 85mph speed limit last year, has now opened to motorists. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Wednesday to commemorate the opening of the highway.
The 41-mile toll road, officially dubbed State Highway 130 and nicknamed Pickle Parkway, runs parallel to the heavily-traveled Interstate 35 between Austin, Texas and San Antonio. The road was meant to help relieve the traffic congestion between the two cities.
The highway was developed in response to the tremendous surge in truck traffic on the I-35 corridor brought on by the North American Free Trade Agreement during the late 1990s, especially truck traffic originating from Laredo, where the Texas Department of Transportation reported 150 trucks entering the United States every hour. A proponent of the highway’s development, Capital Area Transportation Coalition, said that congestion along the I-35 corridor is costing businesses more than $194 million a year in higher operating costs and lost productivity.
Private investors and financiers actually helped with and contributed to the funding of construction for the new stretch of road, which exceeded $11 million.
The 85mph speed limit will be the highest limit anywhere in the U.S. Those opposed to the high speed limit, argued that it is likely to increase the rate of deadly accidents. Last year 3,040 people were killed on Texas roads, already a higher fatality rate than the national average.
However, supporters of the higher limit believed that the increase would seem incremental at best due to the fact other Texas highways already had 80mph speed limits. They also noted that in a 3-year snap shot of those highways with 80mph limits the fatalities actually decreased on those roads.
One concrete company owner, Rudy De La Rosa, was happier to have a road where it will make it easier for his cement trucks to get around faster, rather than costing him money by sitting in traffic and didn’t care much about what the speed limit was.