How a Toll Road in Central Texas Went Bankrupt

It promised to relieve the interminable I-35 traffic but four years after it opened, Highway 130 is more or less a ghost road. Why?

By Michael MarksSeptember 19, 2016 11:52 am, ,

It sounded promising: speed limits above what you’d find anywhere else in the nation and a way around all the congestion of the I-35 corridor between San Antonio and Austin. You’d have to pay a price for the rapid transit, by way of a toll, but taxpayers would get a new road without paying full price for a multi-lane highway.

The pitch – made by the the SH 130 Concession Company, a partnership between Spain-based Cintra and San Antonio-based Zachry American Infrastructure – was an unprecedented deal to build and operate the road for 50 years in exchange for a portion of the toll revenue.

The toll-way opened about four years ago and now, with the concession company filing for bankruptcy, it’s looking like the end of the road.

Katherine Blunt, business reporter for the Houston Chronicle, wrote about the tollway for the San Antonio Express-News. She says the biggest problem the road encountered, almost immediately after it opened, was that traffic fell “far, far below” expectations.

“By 2014, [projections fell] to the tune of 70 percent almost,” she says. “[The project] had a large amount of debt… and the amount of revenue it was generating simply wasn’t enough to support that.”

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– Why Texans haven’t used the toll road as much as projected

– How some towns were hard to reach from the toll road, but easier to access from I-35

– What will happen next with the toll road