Toll Roads

I guess it’s already been about two years since the new toll roads starting opening around Austin. I’m not against toll roads in general, though I do think there are issues of misappropriation of public resources for private gain. If the tolls were simply to repay bonds used for construction, that would be one thing, but that’s not the way these toll roads are operated. I’m not sure exactly what the arrangements are, and I know they differ for some specific toll roads in the area, but at least one of them is apparently operated for profit by a private company. I suppose even that would be acceptable as long as the company paid a suitable lease (or property taxes, though I doubt they bought the land).

But that’s not the point of this post. Rather, it is the odd sense of pleasure I get when I use a toll road. Now, I don’t use them regularly as I quickly determined that they simply didn’t save me enough time to matter — at least not on my commute to and from work. But there are a couple of toll-connected fly-overs that avoid quite a few stoplights. Naturally, these short stretches of toll road are usually the most expensive. Still, when I’m in a hurry — which is fairly often — I just go for it. And, as I said, I actually get a small amount of pleasure when I do so. Of course, the TxTag hides the cost pretty effectively, which is probably a factor.

Am I alone in these feelings? I expect that if I took the toll road on a daily basis, I wouldn’t feel this way. Do you take toll roads occasionally, and if so, how do you feel when you do?


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  1. #1 by Dave2 on November 12, 2008 - 1:08 am

    We don’t have toll roads in Washington State. But when traveling to places that do, I never hesitate to take them. The time saved is easily worth the cost when I calculate out the value of my time to myself.

    Dave2s last blog post..Legacy


  2. #2 by whall on November 12, 2008 - 1:10 am

    I take the toll roads occasionally; they’re not part of my normal commute. But I find them extremely handy at specific times, like when I need to get home in a rush, during rush hour. It saves me 15-20 minutes on my specific route.

    And if I want to go certain places, like to round rock or hutto (not often but maybe once a month) the toll road saves me up to 30 mins or more. Definitely worth the $0.60 or $0.70.

    183A sometimes saves me time going to Leander but I find Lakeline works just as well due to my specific destination (Bible stadium).

    whalls last blog post..Stuff you don’t want to MISC, #63


  3. #3 by Ren on November 12, 2008 - 7:41 am

    Dave, one of the main reasons I don’t end up using the tollway for my commute is that the traffic on the non-tolled route was appreciably reduced by the opening of the tollway. Another factor is that the tollway route is simply longer. It’s not dissimilar to Wayne’s comparison (, though on that map my non-toll route is the smaller yellow NW/SE road that forms a triangle with a portion of the toll route he has marked.


  4. #4 by Ren on November 12, 2008 - 12:31 pm

    Wayne, but you didn’t answer the question — do you get any sort of pleasure from taking the toll road, aside from just appreciating the value benefit?


  5. #5 by Ben on November 12, 2008 - 7:23 pm

    I often take I-35 to 45 to Mopac in the mornings. Usually saves me at least 10 minutes (goes from a 24 minute drive to a 14 minute drive). I’m almost addicted to taking them now, and have to be very self-disciplined to not take them. I can almost get pleasure out of taking them even when they don’t help. How did that happen? Almost certainly part of this is the ease with which one can take them, but also it feels a little bit like I felt when we (Ren) got to stay in that VIP tent at the Champions Tour even recently.

    Bens last blog post..Treeman


  6. #6 by Ren on November 12, 2008 - 7:59 pm

    Yes! The feeling I get is *very* similar to what I felt at that golf event.


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