Rep. Workman files bill to buy SH-130, eliminate tolls
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Rush-hour traffic on Interstate 35 has plagued Austinites for years, but one lawmaker thinks he may have a solution.
Republican Representative Paul Workman has filed a bill intended to make Highway 130 a more attractive option for drivers looking to bypass the city.
His bill would have the state purchase the highway for about $3 billion, using a combination of federal and state money.
"We've asked the federal government to come up with $1.5 billion,” Workman said. “It's contingent upon getting that. Then we would take $1.5 billion out of our Rainey Day Fund, put it together to purchase SH-130."
The state would then completely eliminate tolls on the road in hopes of drawing a considerable amount of traffic from I-35.
Other lawmakers understand the traffic headache, but question whether the plan is a good use of the state's money.
"There are issues with not getting traffic off of I-35, and we don't have a lot of options with funding," Democratic Rep. Donna Howard said. "I would not place my bets on this being something that the 100 votes needed in the legislature would happen."
Still, Workman said he has reached out to members of Congress along the I-35 corridor for their help.
"I've got several congressmen trying to come up with ways for the federal government to do their part," Workman said.
Workman said he probably won't advance the bill without support from the federal government. He said lawmakers are not likely to dip into the Rainy Day Fund for the full $3 billion needed to purchase SH-130.