SAN ANTONIO – The State Highway 130 toll road has the fastest speed limit in the country, but will it get you from the Alamo City to Austin faster than I-35?
With its 85 mile an hour speed limit, it was marketed as an autobahn to Austin and designed to relieve congestion on the busy stretch of I-35 between San Antonio and Austin.
News 4 WOAI wanted to know which highway is faster and decided to put the toll road to the test.
A crew made the trip north two days in a row and left at the exact same time to give an accurate comparison of each highway.
First, the crew took I-35 and set a stopwatch as they left downtown San Antonio.
They hit traffic almost immediately and hit Loop 1604 after 17 minutes. After that, they settled into the familiar highway hum – swaying tumbleweeds, semi trucks – and played bumper cars as the Austin skyline loomed in the distance.
After one hour flat, they reached Austin city limits. To some commuters, that sounded like a good deal.
"Just get on the highway and go,” driver Kimberly Williams said. “I mean, that's my opinion. I like it the way it is."
But many drivers told us they’d sat in traffic on northbound I-35.
"About 20 minutes just coming out of San Antonio,” driver Jim Clark said. “Motorcycle got hit by a tanker truck."
That’s why others say the toll road is a capital idea.
"Because you can get there faster,” driver Bertha Urquiza said. “You can go 85."
On the way home, a whole marketing campaign caught the eye of the news crew. Billboards on either direction of I-35 tout the advantages of taking the toll road.
With one hour as the time to beat, the news crew left the next day for Austin – this time, on State Highway 130.
But first, they had to head east on I-10 and go to the far end of Seguin to meet up with the toll road.
Once they took the flyover ramp onto the toll road they put pedal to the metal and set cruise control to 85 miles per hour.
“If you feel the need for speed, go for it, because there is no one else on this road,” reporter Emily Baucum said.
At the one-hour mark, the crew was still on the road but moving quickly – GPS showed they were parallel to Kyle, just outside of Austin.
After feeling like a lone star for miles on end, they finally spotted their north star, Austin.
Final time: one hour and ten minutes.
The verdict: believe it or not, I-35 was faster – but, there’s always a catch.
"I needed to get around downtown,” driver Christopher McHaney helped explain the catch.
The toll road goes along Austin’s eastern edge – great for bypassing downtown, but drivers heading to UT’s campus need to tack on another 20 minutes of road time.
That’s why Seguin driver Pat Nance called the time-saving road a time waster.
"Nobody's going to come 45 miles out of their way from San Antonio to get onto a highway to go to Austin,” Nance said.
So in the end, which highway gets you to Austin faster? News 4 found it’s a matter of destination and preference: taking your chance on a parking lot, or taking your time on the road less traveled by.