We all have our favorite tools we use to help us get where we want to go, whether it is across town or across the country. Some of us use high-tech gadgets like GPS with the bossy lady in the box. Others plan our routes using Internet driving-direction tools like Google Maps. Some of us use low-tech paper maps–and hope that we can read the fine print. And then there are those who just wander around lost until we are forced to ask directions—you know who you are.
No matter what tool we use, our objective is usually to get where we are going by the simplest and quickest route, with the least amount of hassle. That’s why I am happy to report that the major Internet mapping services—including Google Maps and MapQuest—regularly utilize the Mobility Authority’s 183A tolled expressway in their routing repertoire. Yes, Google gets it.
For example, if you live in Austin and want to head up to the Cedar Park Center to catch a Texas Stars hockey match or an Austin Toros basketball game, Google Maps, MapQuest and others will direct you there via 183A. If you are leaving Lubbock in your rear-view mirror and heading for Austin, the Internet routing gurus will recommend that you make 183A part of the last leg of the trip. Similarly, if you are heading out to Lampasas or Abilene from Austin, 183A will be part of their driving directions.
Toll roads operated by the Texas Department of Transportation also have become a practical suggestion of the Internet mapping services as well. For example, if you are heading for Dallas or Killeen from south or west Austin near MoPac Expressway (Loop 1), the mapping moguls typically will direct you up MoPac, onto TxDOT’s Loop 1 Extension, and over to Interstate 35 via SH 45 North. The alternative route would take you straight over to I-35 and leave you to face the heavy traffic and numerous trucks that usually slow the trip through downtown Austin.
If you live in the Lockhart area, most Internet mapping services will suggest you take SH 130, TxDOT’s tolled expressway, rather than I-35, if you are heading north toward Dallas. There are many other examples as well.
My main point here is that Central Texas toll roads are being noticed, accepted and recommended because they are performing as promised: they are helping to make it easier for people to get where they want to go. The toll roads have become an important part of the region’s integrated transportation system and are giving people more travel options to avoid and reduce congestion—in other words, they are improving mobility.