Resolution in Support of Reducing I-35 Truck Congestion

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John Lawler
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Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:21 pm

Resolution in Support of Reducing I-35 Truck Congestion

Post by John Lawler » Fri Mar 20, 2015 11:19 am

Good morning,

Please find forwarded below a message from CM Casar:

Dear colleagues,

I’m writing to provide you the text of the resolution that CM Pool, CM Renteria, Mayor Adler, CM Kitchen, and I are sponsoring for our Thursday, March 26th meeting that would support current efforts at the State Legislature to reduce large truck traffic along I-35 in Austin.

Austin area legislators – Senator Kirk Watson and Representative Celia Israel – have already introduced legislation that would allocate funding for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDoT) to provide a reduced fare program to big trucks along the state-owned portions of State Highway 130 (SH 130). Previous similar programs have resulted in more big trucks utilizing the SH-130 tollway rather than continuing along I-35 through Austin.

This resolution will offer local support in reducing truck congestion along I-35 by providing reduced tolls along SH-130 and also demonstrate our support for the specific legislation currently being considered by the State Legislature.

I’ve provided a copy of the resolution and some additional bullet points related to the legislation below.

Sincerely,

Greg

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Approve a Resolution in Support of State Legislation to Reduce Toll Rates for Certain Vehicles Traveling State Highway 130

WHEREAS, Interstate Highway 35 (I-35) in Travis County was ranked as the most congested roadway for truck traffic and the second-most congested roadway overall in Texas in 2014; and
WHEREAS, The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDoT) estimates that this congestion costs Texans over $196 million every year; and,
WHEREAS, according to TxDoT, large trucks make up 23% of all I-35 traffic; and,
WHEREAS, toll discounts offered by TxDoT for State Highway 130 (SH 130) since 2011 have increased the number of large truck transactions on State Highway 130 by about 45%; and,
WHEREAS, this suggests the discount diverted more than 1,000 trucks from I-35 to SH 130 every day; and,
WHEREAS, proposed State legislation would instruct TxDOT to develop a toll discount program that would apply to large trucks for the state-operated portions of SH 130; now therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED, that the Austin City Council encourages the Texas Legislature to adopt legislation that would offer discounts on state-owned portions of Texas State Highway 130 through the 2015 – 2016 biennium; and,
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Austin City Council supports the passage of House Bill 594 and Senate Bill 270 during the 84th Legislative Session and wishes to communicate that support to members of the City of Austin delegation, the entire Legislature, and the public.

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Background Material:
• Interstate Highway 35 in Travis County (“I-35”) was ranked as the second most congested roadway, and the most congested roadway for truck traffic, in Texas in 2014. The Texas Department of Transportation (“TxDOT”) estimates that this congestion costs Texans over $196 million every year.
• In order to address the congestion along this important corridor, Mobility35—a locally-led partnership between the City of Austin, TxDOT, and others—has recommended an “everything AND the kitchen sink” approach.
• One way the state can reduce congestion along I-35 is by diverting through-traffic from I-35 to State Highway 130 (“SH 130”).
• TxDOT has conducted several toll discount periods for SH 130 since 2011. Although the data from these periods is limited, it suggests the toll discount increased the number of truck transactions on SH 130 by about 45%. Furthermore, this suggests the discount diverted more than 1,000 trucks from I-35 to SH 130 every day.

Proposed State Legislation:
• SB 270 and HB 594 would give trucks a discount on state-owned portions of the SH 130 toll way and ease traffic by instructing TxDOT to develop a toll discount program for the state-operated portions of SH 130.
• The program would apply to a vehicle or combination of vehicles with three or more axles.
• In keeping with its earlier discount programs, TxDOT likely would implement SB 270 by charging such vehicles the passenger car rate. This would decrease administrative costs since TxDOT already has the necessary computer software.
• Because of its bond covenants, TxDOT must reimburse the Central Texas Turnpike System for the difference in toll revenue that likely would result from implementing SB 270. TxDOT estimates that this will cost the state $40 million over the upcoming biennium, and it requested the related funding as an exceptional item in its most recent Legislative Appropriations Request.
Policy Director
Office of Council Member Greg Casar, District 4