GUADALUPE COUNTY — Gov. Rick Perry, with the assistance of Seguin Mayor Betty Ann Matthies, handled the giant scissors to snip the ribbon officially opening the southern segments of Texas Hwy. 130 in a ceremony Wednesday morning west of Lockhart.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on a northbound entrance ramp from Hwy. 142 to Hwy. 130.
After the ceremony, crews began removing barrels and barricades blocking access to the southern 41 miles of the toll road, and the southern segments from Mustang Ridge to Seguin were open by mid-afternoon Wednesday. Tolls will not be charged on Segments 5 and 6 during a free trial period lasting through Nov. 10.
Matthies said Gov. Perry spoke to her as they approached the ribbon: “He said, ‘Betty, you’re going to help me cut the ribbon,’ and I was glad to do it.”
She said it was “very gratifying” to see the completion of Hwy. 130, a project she had been involved with since its beginnings.
She recalled attending legislative hearings about the highway and attending the ceremony held when the Texas Department of Transportation signed the agreement for the southern segments to be built, maintained and operated by the Hwy. 130 Concession Co., the consortium formed by Cintra US and Zachry American Infrastructure.
Before the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Perry and other speakers were introduced by Joe Krier, a member of the board of directors of the Hwy. 130 Concession Co. and former president of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.
“Is this a great day to be a Texan?” Krier asked the crowd seated beneath and standing around a large tent erected in the middle of an entrance ramp to what he called “the state’s newest and fastest highway.”
Most people don’t get excited when a road is being built, but “everyone is happy when you open a road up,” Perry said.
“When you’re stuck in that traffic between San Antonio and Austin, you understand what this highway is going to mean,” he said, noting that Hwy. 130 is the state’s first highway built by a public-private partnership.
“There was no shortage of individuals, both inside and outside the Capitol, who said it wouldn’t work,” Perry told the crowd.
He also talked about the Texas Legislature diverting money from the state’s Fund 6 which is supposed to be used for highway construction and maintenance.
“I just think it has to stop,” Perry said. “Now is the time to drive that stake into the heart of that process.”
With a thousand people a day moving into this state, Texas must keep up with its needs for infrastructure including highways, he said.
“I look forward to making more than a few trips on this stretch of asphalt,” Perry said.
Other speakers included Mary E. Peters, a member of the board of directors of the Hwy. 130 Concession Co.; Ted Houghton, chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission; Dr. Lew White, mayor of Lockhart; and Rafael del Pino, executive chairman of Ferrovial, parent company of Cintra.
The speed limit on the southern segments of Hwy. 130 is 85 mph, the highest speed limit anywhere in the United States.
“I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m ready to see how fast my car will go,” said David S. Zachry, president and chief executive officer of Zachry Corp.
Within minutes after the ribbon-cutting, the ceremonial first truck and first car traveled down the southbound side of Hwy. 130. The first passenger car was driven by Lockhart resident Martha Carson, who said she will use Hwy. 130 to commute to her job as a teacher at Gonzalo Garza Independence High School in Austin.
The first truck was driven by Lennon Davidson, a delivery driver for the Serta Mattress factory in Lockhart. Serta already has its trucks displaying TxTags to qualify for less expensive rates when traveling on Hwy. 130.