Recently a Williamson County Growth Summit was held to address traffic concerns in the communities surrounding Austin, Texas. The summit was held in order to identify what the concerns were and how best to address them.
The panel discussion that took place at the summit included Mike Heiligenstein, the Executive Director of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA). Other participants were the founder of Ridescout LLC, Joseph Kopser, ArgoDesign’s Jared Ficklin, and Leandre Johns who is the Texas External Affairs Director for Uber Technologies, Inc. The discussion centered on how technology is changing transportation across the globe.
Mike Heiliginstein said that while new technologies could change how transportation takes place, the key to ensuring effectively meeting the challenge of traffic is transportation capacity.
He said there needs to be more roads with more lanes and that incorporate smarter roads. The main problem in the greater Austin area is that most of the population growth is taking part in the suburbs with a lot of residents then commuting to work in the city.
Mike Heiligenstein also made the point that even though they’ve brought in a lot of infrastructure over the last 15 years it’s more than matched by more and more people choosing to live there. More road capacity has to be a large part of the solution.
Other panel members said that building use codes were going to have to change to accommodate technological advances. Uber’s representative said that his company could help by getting people to and from mass transit locations.
Heiligenstein again emphasized that due to population growth exceeding the abilities of mass transportation he envisioned two highways would need to be each expanded to 12 lanes.
The CTRMA is an independent government agency. It was formed in 2002 and the Governor of Texas chose Mike Heiligenstein as its Executive Director.
The first project the agency completed was 183A in Williamson county which features an all-electronic, cashless toll collection system. The agency is working on other toll projects in the area in order to meet the needs of citizens and businesses to ease traffic congestion.
In addition to his work at the CTRMA, He Mike Hiligenstein serves other transportation groups such as the International Bridge, Tunnel, and Turnpike Association as its President. Another organization he lends his expertise to is the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Advisory Board.