The majority of transit discussions in the Austin area focus on the city itself. However, the Williamson County Growth Summit which happened recently was an opportunity to frame transport challenges with the needs of the area’s suburban communities in mind.
The discussion panel included Mike Heiligenstein, who is the CTRMA (Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority)Executive Director. Others in that panel were Joseph Kopser, Jared Ficklin, and Leandre Johns. These are the RideScout LLC founder, Uber Technologies Inc., Texas External Affairs Director and ArgoDesign’s designer respectively. Their discussion was at the Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel and Conference Center, and it centered on how technology has changed the face of transportation across the globe and in Austin.
Effecting policy change
Mike Heiligenstein noted that technologies such as ridesharing apps and driverless vehicles could transform the transportation infrastructure radically. All the same, he insists the Austin area will need to invest in expanding its transportation capacity.
According to Heiligenstein this can be done mostly by building smarter and more roads. Mike believes this is the only way they can serve the mobility demands arising from a rapidly growing population whereby majority of the growth is in Williamson County and similar suburbs.
Heiligenstein stated that over the past 15 years or so, Williamson had done an amazing job with regards to infrastructure structuring. However, he added that more people will come to the county. This being the case, they were to build roads and expand capacities. Mike finished by saying they are getting to a point where the corridors remaining have to made more technically advanced, more efficient and smarter. Learn more about Mike Heiligenstein: https://communityimpact.com/topics/mike-heiligenstein/
Ficklin also made a statement in response to Round Rock Mayor Alan McGraw. The mayor had asked what policymakers need to do to prepare for future transportation needs. Ficklin made emphasis that land-use and building codes need to be made flexible.
He added that there will be need all other modes of transport and the infrastructure required to maintain them even with the presence of autonomous vehicles. Ficklin finished by stating the current building codes will not be compatible with the future garages and parking structures.
Some background on Mike Heiligenstein
Heiligenstein is currently the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority’s Executive Director. In 2003, the decision to select him was made by a seven-member CTRMA board of directors. Before joining the CTRMA, Mike was a Williamson County Commissioner for 15 years and a member for Round Rock City for eight years.