During a Williamson County Growth Summit, the panel discussion discussed transit solutions for not just Austin itself but the suburban communities around it as well. The panel included Mike Heiligenstein, the Executive Director of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority as well as other executives. The discussion was focused primarily on how technology is changing transportation issues in Austin and globally as well.
The panel discussed new upcoming technologies such ridesharing apps and autonomous cars. However, Heiligenstein also noted that irregardless the Austin area would still need to expand its transportation capacity by adding additional more, and smarter, roads in order to meet the communities needs. This would especially need to be done in the suburban areas which is where most of the growth is occurring.
Another topic that was brought up was that building and land-use codes would need to be updated in order to meet the changes caused by upcoming technology. They discussed such issues as garages one driverless cars are in operation and how not only would charging and service stations added but that also the entire structure would be different as it wouldn’t need to accommodate people. However, Heiligenstein isn’t as convinced that these vehicles will be adopted as fast as others believe, and focused more on increasing road capacity.
the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority was created in 2002 in order to improve the transportation system in Travis and Williamson counties. This independent government agency’s goal is to reduce the congestion that is occurring in the region. The transportation systems under the agency’s purview includes roads, airports, seaports, and mass transit. To fund projects the Authority can issue bonds as well as employ user fees and taxes.
Mike Heiligenstein was named Executive Director of the Central Texas Regional Mobile Authority in 2003. Heiligenstein, who earned his Bachelors and two Masters at the University of Texas, has been an elected official in the Austin area for over 23 years. He served as the Williamson County Commissioner for 15 years and was a city council member of Round Rock City for 8 years. In 2014 Heiligenstein was nominated to President of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association. He is a member of several other committees and working groups that address transportation issues. He additionally speaks to groups nationally due to his expertise in transportation and infrastructure.