The recently held Williamson County Growth Summit provided an opportunity where one of Austin’s major transit problems – traffic – was discussed in detail. The executive director of the Central Texas regional mobility authority, Mike Heiligenstein was among the panelists.
The other panelists were the Director of Texas External Affairs, Uber Technologies Inc., Leandre Johns, Jared Ficklin of ArgoDesign, and the founder of RideScout LLC, Joseph Kopser. The event was held in December 2016, at the Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel and Conference Center.
The discussions at the summit focused on the dynamic nature of the transportation sector within Austin, and across the globe – thanks to the growth in technology. While acknowledging the significant transformation that could arise in the transportation infrastructure, such as ridesharing apps and driverless vehicles, Mike Heiligenstein said that focus should be put on the investments aimed at increasing the transportation capacity in Austin – and more so in the construction of more and smarter roads.
Mike further added that this is the only way that the Austin region can serve the changing demands of the quickly growing population. He was quick to add that a substantial part of the growth is taking place in the suburb areas such as Williamson County. He also pointed out that in as much as Williamson has done a commendable job of structuring its transport infrastructure for the past 15 years; a lot still needs to be done since the county is receiving more people.
He advised the people responsible, to try building more roads and expanding the capacities. Heiligenstein said that he foresees a situation where the remaining corridors will need to be smarter, more efficient, as well as more technically advanced than they are now.
Mike Heiligenstein leads the small professional staff of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (an independent government agency created in 2002 to improve the transportation system in Travis and Williamson County). The mission of the agency is to implement innovative solutions with the ability to minimize congestion, and also offer transport options that deliver improved quality of life as well as economic growth.
Since its inception, he has been working as the executive director and even oversaw its first project located in Williamson County, 183A – aimed at delivering an all-electronic and cashless toll collection.
Before taking up the executive directorship, Mike served as a public official in Williamson County for 23 years. He has a leadership role at the International Bridge, Tunnel & Turnpike Association, where he works as the president. He is a member of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Advisory Board, and numerous other working groups and committees dealing with matters affecting transportation.