A number of discussions touching on Austin area’s transit have been directed at the city. A growth summit held in the recent past had the opportunity to look at the transportation challenges from the angle of the needs that the suburban communities in the area had. The panel involved in the discussion had Mr. Mike Heiligenstein from CTRMA, Joseph Kopser, the founder of RideScout LLC, Jared Fickling from ArgoDesign and Leander Johns, Texas external affairs director of Uber technologies. The discussion event took place at the Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel & Conference Center. It was centered on the various ways that technology is changing the transportation face across the world and the Austin region in particular.
The need to grow the transportation capacity of Austin Area
Mike Heiligenstein noted that indeed new technologies like ridesharing apps and driverless vehicles had the ability to transform the transportation infrastructure in the area; there is still a need to invest more in the capacity. This would particularly involve the developing of more smart roads as the only way to fully satisfy and meet the demands placed on the existing infrastructure by the growing population in Williamson County. Mike stated that the county had tried to develop its infrastructure over the last 15 years, but there was need to expand these capacities.
Policymakers’ preparations for the Future
Ficklin insisted on the need to make land-use and building codes more flexible. He was responding to a query raised by the mayor of Round Rock, Alan McGraw, on the steps that policymakers ought to take in preparation of meeting future transportation needs. Ficklin insisted on the need to develop more roads and parking garages as the new autonomous vehicles will still need to use them. The parking garages will have a number of levels and that is not allowed in the existing building codes currently.
CTRMA is an autonomous agency of the government that was launched back in 2002 to help in improving the transportation systems of Travis and Williamson counties. The mission of the agency is the implementation of transportation solutions aimed at reducing congestion and create those that will enhance economic vitality and life quality. A board of directors consisting of seven members oversees the mobility authority.
About Mike Heiligenstein
Mike Heiligenstein has led an illustrious career in developing infrastructure in the Central Texas area and is the executive director of CTRMA. He has represented the citizens in this fast growing area in the Williamson County as an elected official for 23 years. He holds a Masters in Business and Government Administration (University of Texas graduate).