Commentary

Austin Tollroad Expands Based on Strong Demand

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority has begun construction on a 5 mile extension of 183A, seven years ahead of schedule, thanks to its ability to use toll revenues to finance transportation projects. Even though parallel frontage roads (service roads) are untolled, traffic on the first phase of the project has exceeded projections, enabling the mobility authority to press ahead with other needed projects. The Authority reports that 30,000 drivers use the road each day. The extension is expected to cost $105 million.

The success of the tollroad is noteworthy because urban traffic volumes have been down since the onset of the Great Recession. Clearly, the experience of the Central Texas Mobility Authority shows the importance of strategic and tactical transportation investments, rather than broad based spending that is poorly targeted based on need and demand.

Samuel R. Staley, Ph.D. is a senior research fellow at Reason Foundation and managing director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University in Tallahassee where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in urban planning, regulation, and urban economics. Prior to joining Florida State, Staley was director of urban growth and land-use policy for Reason Foundation where he helped establish its urban policy program in 1997.