Austin traffic … always a topic of conversation! I still trace the beginning of the problem to the fast-growth 1980s and years of city managment that assumed, “If we ignore the growth it will go away!” So we entered the 1990s a metro area of well over 1/2-million with roads built for a city half that size. We have never really caught up. Now we have a not-so-positive distinction: Austin ranked 4th worst traffic in U.S. If you read my blog often, you know that I have a problem with exaggerated headlines, and with the fact that they are so easy to find.
What this article really says is that the I-35 corridor through Austin — and more specifically, the mile or so where the interstate approaches the Colorado River northbound — is horribly congested. Yep, it sure is! But does that mean the whole city has the worst traffic is the country? I have driven in many of the cities ranked better, and I drive all the time in Austin, and I’ll pick Austin traffic over most of them! We have a few locations and a couple of times each day when traffic is a serious issue. In many other cities traffic is an all-day every-day problem.
Sure Austin gets congested, and I have more flexibility than many people in choosing when I drive. I also know more detours and less-traveled routes than a lot of folks who don’t drive as much as I do. Still, though, things really move pretty well here most of the time.
… relieving congestion on IH-35 was a major selling point in getting the SH-130 tolled by-pass built. If you’ve ever spent any time in that Riverside area traffic jam, you know that getting the 18-wheelers off the interstate and onto the by-pass would improve the situation significantly. Unfortunately, the per-axle tolls on SH-130 have kept virtually all commercial vehicles on IH-35, right through the center of Austin and on the major thoroughfare from Mexico to the U.S. heartland and the Canadian border! Give them a break! Tell trucking companies, “By-pass Austin, drive SH-130 for FREE!” The state and city could trade maintenance on IH-35 for maintenance on SH-130, and dramatically reduce the through-traffic congestion in and around downtown Austin!
Obviously, I’m not a traffic management professional, but it seems like a no-brainer to at least try this approach!