You can drive 85 - in Texas
The new Texas State Highway 130 tollway runs from near Austin to near San Antonio.
September 7th, 2012
09:57 AM ET

You can drive 85 - in Texas

The saying goes that everything is bigger in Texas. This fall that will apply to speed, too.

The Texas Transportation Commission has approved an 85-mph speed limit for a new toll road between Austin and San Antonio. It will be the highest speed limit in the United States, according to local news reports.

The toll road is a 41-mile stretch of  Texas State Highway 130 known as Segments 5 and 6, running from Mustang Ridge near Austin to Seguin outside of San Antonio. If motorists drive at the speed limit, they'll cover the 41 miles in less than a half hour.

The 85-mph limit surpasses the current high in the United States, set on portions of Interstate 15 in Utah and sections of I-10 and I-20 in west Texas, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

But are the higher speeds safe?

The Insurance Institute says the higher the speed, the more dangerous for the motorists. Higher speeds limit reaction times, increases braking distances and put stresses on safety equipment in cars and on roads, the institute says.

"There are limits to the amount of crash energy that can be managed by vehicles, restraint systems and roadway hardware such as barriers and crash cushions. The higher the speed, the higher the likelihood that these limits will be exceeded in crashes, limiting the protection available for vehicle occupants," according to the institute's website.

Texas officials say safety won't be compromised by the higher speeds.

"Safety is our top priority and tests have shown the designated speed is a safe one," Mark Cross, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation, is quoted as saying by the Texas Tribune.

The SH 130 Concession Co. which built and will operate the toll road, says motorists bear responsibility for safety.

"We are committed to operating a safe, reliable highway for our customers. On any road, drivers hold the key to safety based on traffic, travel conditions and the capabilities of their own vehicles," the company said in a statement, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Tolls have yet to be set, but whatever they are drivers won't have to slow down to pay them.

"There will be no toll plazas on segments 5 & 6 of SH 130. Tolls will be collected electronically at certain points along the roadway, meaning motorists will not have to slow down or stop. Traffic will be 100% free flowing," according to The SH 130 Concession Co., which was formed by the Spanish construction company Cintra and the Texas company Zachary American Infrastructure.

Officials hope drivers will use the highway to avoid and alleviate congestion on Interstate 35, which the toll road operators say is more congested in the area than at any part in its entire length, from Canada to Mexico.

"We look forward to opening this segment of SH 130, which will help reduce congestion for the Austin-San Antonio corridor by providing Texas drivers and others with an alternate route for traveling through our great state," Cross told the Texas Tribune.

The toll road is required to open by November 11 but may open sooner.

"We are confident we will be open ahead of schedule,” Chris Lippincott, spokesman for the SH 130 Concession Company, told Texas Weekly.

While the higher speed promises quicker trips for drivers, it also means more money into state coffers. The concession company will pay the Texas Department of Transportation a $100 million bonus for the 85-mph limits, the Texas Tribune reported. If the limit had been set at 80 mph, the bonus would have been only $67 million, according to the report.

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Filed under: Texas • Transportation
soundoff (711 Responses)
  1. Tyler

    LOL @ 85 being "high speeds". Going 160 on the Autobahn is what I call high speeds!

    September 7, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Mr. Sensitive.

    More splattered texans in texass is a good thing.

    September 7, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. sparky

    Done over a 100 mph on Beeline Express in Florida several times when I lived in Orlando back in the 70's....smooth

    September 7, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. tango01

    I drove in the autobahn at 200 kph (125 mph) and it was very safe. But even when there is no speed limit in Germany, the rule that is strictly enforced is that slower traffic must keep right. The problem in the US is not the speed limit. Is the fact that anyone thinks it's right to drive on any line regardless of the speed so you end up having slower traffic on the left line. In this case in Texas I think a higher speed limit could work because slower traffic can still take I-35 at 70 or 75 mph.

    September 7, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. dumbasy

    I wouldn't taigate anyone if it weren't for the car in front of me.

    September 7, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • banasy©

      I am smart enough of a driver not to drive in the passing lane.
      Pullup on over to the right hand lane and keep out of the way of drivers who actually know what the left lane is for.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Orso

    I do 85 on all roads... does it mean I can go faster in Texas now?

    September 7, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mario Andretti

      Wanna race?

      September 7, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dario F

      I will race you Andretti, you old has been.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Smartassy

    German's are even dumber than Americans. That nation has done more pharmaceuticals per capita than any other nation, and for many more years. (advanced pharmacology was pioneered by nazi Bayer AG/expirimental jews)
    Germans are like robots when it comes to driving and working. And they've been driving on the finest roads and working with the finest tools for decades, so they are used to driving and producing FAST. This is simply not the case in pot hole America double cheezburger on the fly. (plus cell phone texting, 44 oz Slurpee)

    September 7, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. abbydelabbey

    Texas is thinning the herd at 85 mph.

    September 7, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mario Andretti

      Yeppers.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mario Andretti

    The highway of death.

    September 7, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Mario Andretti

    It's a boon for the mortuary business, too!

    September 7, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. banasy©

    I suppose that is the price one will pay for wanting to go 85 miles per hour...

    September 7, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. str8vision

    Anyone who has driven in Dallas, Houston and other major Texas cities knows everyone already drives 85 mph.

    September 7, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Aaron

      Not just Texas.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Affuman

    Just so you know...most places in Europe have posted speed limits near 80...and that's not even on the Autobahn. They've had those speed limits for decades. The difference is, people there focus on driving; little things like not talking or texting on cell phones, watching other drivers, being attentive, not tailgating, and just basically not being a jerk behind the wheel. If Americans can ever figure that out, 80 or 85 mph will be safe here as well. For many cars, its actually more fuel efficient to travel at one speed (80-85) than to constantly speed up or slow down to get past some inattentive jerk who is in the wrong lane...

    September 7, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • banasy©

      Very well put.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Traveler

      To Texas – very well – it's called education, infrastructure and civilization. Go there andearn before showing your parochial ignorance.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      to Texas,,
      How is that relevant?

      September 7, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Philip

    Germany's superhighways were part of the underground Nazi War Machine's ruses. Germany's autobahn was designed with moving Nazi Germany's war machine from underground bases to surface bases in mind. Obviously not with just automobiles in mind.
    Germany was not permitted by the international community to build a war machine after losing WWI. But Germany did anyway, underground, and for many years prior to the outbreak of war. (when Germany invaded Poland, half of their war machine was horse drawn. At that time, France could have singlehandedly efeated Germany)

    September 7, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Philip on the autobahn

    Driving a brand new 1996 VW Passat from Hanover ot Munich, I was passed by a garbage truck like I was standing still. I was doing 85.
    In Germany, it is against the law to pass on the right on any highway. You simply flash your lights, and people move over. Here, they give you the finger and stay in the fast lane all the way to Denver. (why the last think American drivers need is to go faster...there will always be the 15% of US WHO SIMPLY WILL NOT COOPERATE. spun on drugs)

    September 7, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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