The cash gauge just hit empty

Texas’ experiment with setting highway speed limits to maximize revenue has failed.

I’m not talking about speed traps. Those are coming back.

The company that bought the 85 mph speed limit on the Austin bypass just declared bankruptcy.

Why can’t you buy an 85 mph speed limit? You don’t have $100 million.

Private toll roads aren’t built for the good of society. They are built to satisfy the urges of bloodsucking parasites.

I don’t mean to criticize businessmen, any more than I criticize mosquitoes. They are what they are. Kept under control they have done great things for the world. A few even reform spontaneously. Bill Gates is a notable supervillain turned philanthropist.

But don’t mistake public works for philanthropy, and don’t mistake freeways for a free market.

These companies fear competition. The early turnpikes were made obsolete by railroads, which in turn were made obsolete by highways and highways by airplanes.

How can they compete? They can’t compete on quality when government can build equally good roads and they can’t compete on price when those roads are free.

They can outcompete in spending on lobbyists, that’s how.

They make the government promise to build worse roads. Texas obstructed traffic on free roads, and could be paid to run speed traps on I-35 to make people use the toll road.

In the other direction the company paid $100 million for the right to have the only 85 mph speed limit in America. They thought they could charge drivers a dollar per trip for the higher speed limit, give some of it to their creditors, give some more to the state, and keep the rest as profit.

They were wrong. Even with the artificial speed limit differential, set to maximize revenue rather than safety, too few people were willing to pay the tolls.

Given the history of failure I don’t think private long distance toll roads make sense any more.

I hope the collapse of the company leaves an opportunity to expand 85 mph speed limits now that the exclusive right to one is less valuable. I said the limit wasn’t set for safety. I didn’t say it was unsafe. It should be a model for the rest of the country.

The opinions expressed in this post belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of the National Motorists Association or the NMA Foundation. This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice. No representations are made regarding the accuracy of this post or the included links.

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