When most discussions about transportation in the Austin area are mainly focused on the city of Austin, the recent Williamson County Growth summit was different. It provided experts with an opportunity to talk about transportation issues in the suburbs of the region.
Experts That Were involved
Among the experts was Mike Heiligenstein, the Executive Director for the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. Other experts that took part in the discussion were Jared Ficklin of ArgoDesign, Leandre Johns from Uber Technologies Inc., and Joseph Kopser from Ride Scout LLC.
The discussion, which took place at the Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel & Conference Center, was mainly focused on how technology is influencing transportation globally and in the region.
What the Experts Said
Mr. Heiligenstein noted that while new technologies were having a major influence on transportation in the Austin region, there was still a need to invest in more capacity. He was of the opinion that the only way to meet the mobility needs of the region was to build more roads that incorporated modern transportation technology. Learn more about Mike Heiligenstein: https://www.facebook.com/MobilityAuthority/
He said that Williamson County had made a commendable effort to expand its infrastructure in the past decade and a half. However, they still needed to do more.
Alan McGraw, the mayor for Round rock said that policy makers needed to keep building land use policies flexible. He noted that even with autonomous vehicles, things such as parking garages and roads would still be required. However, he noted that the garages of the future might be quite different from those of today.
John from Uber said that there needed to be an emphasis on providing first and last mile connectivity that way, people would be more enthusiastic about using public transportation.
Mike Heiligenstein and the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority
The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority is an independent agency that was created in 2002. Its goal is to provide solutions for the transportation needs of Travis and Williamson counties. The aim of the authority is to create multi-modal and innovative solutions that reduce congestion, enhance economic vitality, and improve the quality of life.
The authority employs a small group of professionals who are led by Mike Heiligenstein, the Executive Director. It operates under the Texas Transportation Code Chapter 370. It is authorized to fund projects through the issuance of revenue bonds. Besides that, the authority is allowed to utilize taxes and user fees to repay bonds and fund operations.