The Williamson Growth County summit was held last month at the Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel. The panel present at the summit comprised of Joseph Kopser who is the founder of RideScout LLC, Leandre Johns who is Texas External Affairs Director for Uber, and Mike Heiligenstein who is the executive director of CTRMA. The main topic of discussion was about how technology would change the transportation model in Austin. Heiligenstein noted that there was a need to develop more roads in anticipation of the changes that technology would bring. He said that roads needed to be added to support the growing population of residents in the area.
Heiligenstein has acted as the Executive Director of the Central Texas Mobility Authority since it was started. He worked as a public official in Williamson County for 23 years before joining CTRMA. He is also the president of the International Bridge Tunnel and Turnpike Association. The Central Texas Mobility Authority was started to develop mobility solutions in both Williamson and Travis County. CTRMA designed 183A Toll Road and the U.S 290 toll road which have improved the flow of traffic in the area. 183a Toll Road is one of the first roads in the country to incorporate cashless electronic toll collection. The MoPac Express Lanes that CTRMA is developing will use variable tolling to control the flow of traffic by managing the number of cars on the roads.
There are close to million empty seats on cars in Austin each day according to data. CTRMA realized that carpooling would help to fill these positions and decrease the number of cars on the road. This is why they partnered with Carma (a carpooling app) so that they could encourage ride sharing. Repetitive starting and stopping of cars on busy roads was identified as one of the biggest contributors to congestion. It is for this reason that CTRMA partnered with Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization to start the HERO Program. The program offers free roadside assistance to motorists whose cars have had minor breakdowns. This solution helps to get motorists going as fast as possible and ensures that traffic flows efficiently.
The authority has tried to implement the initiatives recommended in the Urban Mobility Scorecard drafted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. One of the solutions proposed that more people needed to walk and cycle to reduce congestion. CTRMA has facilitated this by building paths for cyclists and pedestrians along their projects.