Texas State Highway 130 bisects an unremarkable and scrubby stretch of country, giving drivers a route to San Antonio that bypasses the notoriously clogged I-35. The state’s newest toll road attracted particular notice because it boasts a 85 mph-speed limit, the highest in the nation. But now, the road is garnering headlines for another reason: the presence of feral hogs.
“That is known as a pig route,” Caldwell County Constable Victor Terrel told Vianna Davila of the San Antonio Express-News.
Since opening last week, Texas 130, which connects southeast Austin to Seguin, three collisions with animals have been reported on this 41-mile stretch of toll road. And the hits will probably keep coming. As an article in the San Antonio Express-News notes, Texas has the highest population of feral hogs in the country.
Dubious? Watch this video from the Lockhart Police Department, taped before the highway opened to the public, of a sounder of pigs crossing the roadway at night:
To deal with this problem, SH 130 Concession Company, which was contracted to construct and run the highway, has put up temporary portable signs that say “wildlife crossing,” company spokesman Chris Lippincott told the TM Daily Post Tuesday. These will be replaced by permanent signs within a week.
Lippincott highlighted the importance of staying alert on the road and said the company will make adjustments to safety precautions to keep drivers as safe as possible.
He also stressed that the project will not cost Texas taxpayers a dime. “This is an investment in a world class highway at no cost to the average citizen. It will be a reliable alternative to the reliably bad I-35.”
Although the speed limit is only 85, the gantries (the toll road arches that read your speed and identification) can capture TxTags and license plate of cars going more than 173 miles per hour. It’s designed to minimize lane changing and slowing down by installing cashless toll technology.
The Texas Department of Transportation could not be reached for statistics regarding the number of animal-related accidents since Friday, but according to the Express-News there were two hog-related accidents and one collision with a deer as of this weekend. No one was injured in those crashes.
To mark the opening of the road, Davila penned a first-person piece describing her trip down the fastest highway in America. She notes that travel on the road is free through November 11, an attempt, according to one man, to get people addicted to traveling at such a clip:
A Lockhart pastor who wouldn’t give his name because, he said, he didn’t want to make any enemies, described the two-week moratorium on tolls like a pretty woman or an illegal substance. Both lure you in. But a little taste of those high speeds, and you’re hooked:
“It’s gonna be like alcohol,” he said. Soon, you “can’t put that bottle down.”
And, like with addiction, getting your fix could get pricey: the Austin American-Statesman‘s Ben Wear estimated a trip from Austin to Seguin will cost $7.17. (The total cost of any trip varies “based on the size of the vehicle, method of payment and how far the vehicle travels,” Davila wrote.) Wear then breaks down in detail how much a trip on the road costs versus the time savings for various routes.