Transport experts gathered together during the Williamson County Growth Summit to discuss traffic. This is the biggest challenge facing the Williamson County. The panel discussion had experts such as Leandre Johns who is the External Affairs Director, Texas, Mike Heiligenstein who is the Executive Director at Central Texas, Joseph Kosper who is the founder of RideScout LLC, and Jared Ficklin who is a product designer at Argo Designs. The Summit took place at the Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel & Conference Center. The discussion was focused on how technology has been changing the transportation face in Austin and the entire world.
Mike Heiligenstein said that the Williamson County should concentrate on constructing more and smarter roads. He added that the county would be serving the mobility demands of its fast growing population by doing so. Mike congratulated Williamson County for the good work of structuring its infrastructure in the last 15 years. He said that those roads should be built and the capacities expanded since more people are bound to come in the county. Mike stated that the remaining corridors have to be made more efficient and smarter.
Mr. Ficklin said that the codes for land-use and building need to stay flexible. This is what will be required when there are autonomous vehicles. Ficklin added that the garage of the future would be different from the current one. It will have levels which are five ft tall with a charging station situated on one level and a service station on another level. Mike said that he was optimistic regarding autonomous vehicles and added that the adoption rate would be tedious and slow. He stated that it is important that the County improves its capacity for buses and roads.
Mike Heiligenstein serves as the Executive Director at Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA). CTRMA is an independent government agency established in 2002 so as to enhance the system of transportation in Travis and Williamson Counties. CTRMA’s mission is to innovate and implement the multi-modal transportation solutions that minimize congestion and form transportation choices that improve economic vitality and quality of life.
Mike focuses his career in infrastructure development in Central Texas and is responsible for overseeing all the work at CTRMA. Mike has served in the County of Williamson for more than 20 years. He has helped lead efforts to expand transportation infrastructure, water, and wastewater. Mike was chosen by CTRMA’s Board to represent the citizens of Williamson County.
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.
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