In the 19th year of the annual Austin county growth summit, business journals panelists discarded the norm of centering the discussion around the Austin region only. This year, the summit broadened the range of their discussion to addressing the issues of Austin’s suburban communities.
The panel comprising of transit experts including Mike Heiligenstein, executive director of Central Texas Regional Mobile Authority discussed possible solutions to curb the contentious traffic situation in Williamson County.
The summit discussion was mainly focused on the impact that technology has on the transport industry, not only in Austin but globally. Mike specifically pointed out that the industry is coming up with new technologies like ridesharing, and driverless cars that could revolutionize the transport infrastructure. To this effect, Austin urgently needs to expand the transportation capacity to accomplish the growing population.
He stated that this would be done by building more roads that will serve the transportation requirements of the ever growing Williamson County population. Mike also pointed out that the existing roads need to be made smarter and more advanced.
Mike Heiligenstein expressed his receptiveness to the autonomous vehicles, although he was not encouraged that implementing the idea will be as fast as people thought it would be. He stated that the process will be challenging and would take a long time and that the effort would be better diverted to increasing the capacity of the buses and roads.
Mike projected that the county would eventually need 12 lanes on the 183 US highway, and the 290 state highway of Austin.
Jared Ficklin of Argo Designs responded to a question from the panel moderator by saying that buildings and land codes need to maintain flexibility. This is because the future parking garage features would not be compatible with the current building codes.
Joseph Kosper from Uber Technology Inc. stated that commuters need ride-sharing companies that would provide first and last mile solutions. These solutions included options that would make it easy to get to the bus stop wing because the first and last miles have been sorted out.
The Central Texas Regional Mobile Authority was formed in 2002. It is an independent government agency that seeks to create and implement transportation solutions that improve the quality of the county’s economy and ultimately, the lives of the people.
Mike Heiligenstein served as a public official in Williamson County for 23 years before joining the Central Texas Regional Mobile Authority. He has led CTRMA to significant development leading to radical changes in the transportation industry in Williamson County.
Mike also serves on several advisory boards that deal with matters transport.