It's little incidents like this that add up to tell the story of what these toll roads cost our community, especially when improvements to competing roads are precluded either by language in the toll bonds or by back room decisions.
I have now observed what I have feared would result from adding toll roads to our transportation grid and ignoring needs of drivers who cannot afford to use these roads regularly.
I play soccer on Sundays and a new county park has opened just south and east of Manor where I have now driven twice to play. The most direct route for those of us going from SW Austin is to take Hwy 71 east, just past the airport, to 973 and take that north to Blake Manor Road, which is just south of Manor and Hwy 290. 973 basically parallels tolled Hwy 130 the entire distance.
Even on a Sunday morning, 973 is very busy. Looking over at Hwy 130, I don't think it is nearly as busy. So it seems to me drivers are choosing the free two lane country road over the mega-lane toll facility in large numbers. I suppose some of the traffic on 973 is local, but several cars I traveled along with took 973 the entire distance from Hwy 71 all the way north to Manor.
The first week I played soccer in Manor I came upon an accident on 973 on the way home and discovered one of my teammates had been rear-ended hard enough to spin her across the road, into a ditch and total her vehicle. My friend had stopped because the truck in front of her, towing a horse trailer, had stopped at a narrow bridge to let something wider pass by.
The police officers who responded to the accident said the number of accidents on 973 was escalating rapidly because the area is growing so fast. A friend of the woman who rear ended my teammate also stopped to be helpful. She said she lives near 973 and 130 and takes 130 when she goes to work at rush hour, but can't afford to take it more than that. She said she just prays to be safe when she takes 973 the rest of the time because it's crowded, people speed and pass inappropriately on it. To me this is social blight caused by toll roads. People who can't afford to take the toll road end up on unsafe back roads which have their own costs to everyone; accident rates go up, insurance rates go up and we have two classes of drivers, ones who can afford the toll and ones who pray for safety.