Texas prides itself on being the biggest — now it’s also the fastest.
On Wednesday, a newly constructed toll road opened about 20 miles south of Austin with a speed limit higher than any other roadway in the nation: 85 mph (136.79 km/h)
Zayonara Menchaca, 29, who manages Pitchers bar along the new highway in Mustang Ridge, was excited, saying it would speed her commute from Pflugerville about 30 miles north.
But she said the small town, population 860, is unprepared for the expected influx of traffic, both from speed fans on the new highway and those headed to the new F1 racetrack, Circuit of the Americas, which opened last weekend and plans to host the Formula One US Grand Prix on Nov. 18.
“I feel like we’re being thrown into the ring without gloves,” she said, pointing across a field to the highway in the distance.
The statewide speed limit is still 70 mph. Texas already had some 80 mph highways — as does Utah along Interstate 15 — but they were in remote, flat stretches of West Texas, not the capital’s hilly southern suburbs.
The new 41-mile highway, dubbed “Pickle Parkway” for the late local Democratic U.S. Rep J.J. “Jake” Pickle, running west toward San Antonio will probably absorb commuters avoiding the congested Interstate 35 loop around Austin.
Advocates say faster roads make sense in a state the size of Texas, where it takes more than 10 hours to drive from Houston to El Paso.
But members of the Governors Highway Safety Association and some residents have expressed concern about speeding and traffic accidents along the new four-lane toll road between Seguin and Mustang Ridge, free to drivers until Nov. 11.
Last year 3,040 people were killed on Texas roads, a higher fatality rate than the national average.
The thrill of the new highway has more to do with avoiding gridlock than playing autobahn, supporters say.
“After a long day’s work, I don’t want to sit in traffic,” said Rudy De La Rosa, 59, who owns a concrete construction company.
©2012 Los Angeles Times
Distributed by MCT Information Services
Columns Everything you need to know about purchasing, maintaining and driving your car.
Become a member
Register now to access all features including:
- Save and ask friends to review vehicles
- Exclusive rebates & offers from local dealers
- Premium content, reviews and tools
All for free!
Already a member?
Registration 2 of 2
Welcome to Wheels!
As a final step we've sent a confirmation to your email address as a security measure. Please click the link in the email to complete your registration.
Terms of services
DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTIES AND LIMITATION OF LIABILITY
TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, TORONTO STAR IS PROVIDING THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES ON AN "AS IS" AND â€œAS AVAILABLEâ€ BASIS AND MAKES NO WARRANTIES OR REPRESENTATIONS, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, IN ANY CONNECTION WITH THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES, THEIR CONTENTS, OR ANY WEB SITE OR CONTENTS WITH WHICH IT IS LINKED. TORONTO STAR DOES NOT WARRANT THAT THE FUNCTION OF THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES OR THEIR CONTENTS WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED OR ERROR FREE, THAT DEFECTS WILL BE CORRECTED, OR THAT THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES OR THE SERVERS THAT MAKE IT AVAILABLE ARE FREE OF VIRUSES OR OTHER HARMFUL COMPONENTS.
TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, NEGLIGENCE, SHALL TORONTO STAR BE LIABLE FOR ANY LOSS OF USE, LOSS OF DATA, LOSS OF INCOME OR PROFIT, LOSS OF OR DAMAGE TO PROPERTY, OR FOR ANY DAMAGES OF ANY KIND OR CHARACTER (INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION ANY COMPENSATORY, INCIDENTAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, PUNITIVE, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES), EVEN IF TORONTO STAR HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES OR LOSSES, ARISING OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OF THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES, THEIR CONTENTS, OR ANY WEBSITE OR CONTENTS WITH WHICH IT IS LINKED. IN NO EVENT SHALL TORONTO STARâ€™S TOTAL LIABILITY FOR ALL DAMAGES, LOSSES, AND CAUSES OF ACTION, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, TORT (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, NEGLIGENCE), OR OTHERWISE, EXCEED THE AMOUNT PAID BY YOU FOR ACCESSING THIS SITE.X