This biggest issue plaguing Williamson County near Austin is traffic. Most discussions about the transit problem are usually focused on the city but at Thursday’s Williamson County’s 19th Growth Summit, the discussion was directed towards the suburban communities.
The panel included Mike Heiligenstein, the executive director of Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, Joseph Kopser, the founder of Ridescout LLC, Texas External Affairs Director Leandre Johns and Jared Ficklin from Argodesign and who proposed the aerial gondola system in central Austin.
The event took place at the Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel & Conference Center. Here, they discussed how technology was helping to shape transportation all over the world, not just in Austin. Heiligenstein pointed out that before they could focus on things like driverless cars though, they need to work on the transportation capacity problem with things such as smarter and bigger roads.
The roads in Williamson County are in good shape but the number of people coming to the area is expected to grow and the roads are not yet ready for that amount of people. The idea of a 12 lane highway was brought up. Reshaping mass transit was also discussed but the first and last mile to and from destinations still needs to be helped. It was argued that Uber was a perfect solution.
The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority was created in 2002 and acts as an independent government agency. Its main focus is to improve the transportation system in Williamson and Travis counties with things like finding ways to reduce congestion and improving quality of life.
The Mobility Authority is overseen by a seven member board of directors with Mike Heiligenstein as it executive director. He helps work with private contractors who set up a staff to work on individual projects. The Mobility Authority is authorized by the state to create many different transportation systems like roadways, airports and transit services. They are authorized to use revenue bonds to fund whatever project they deem necessary and use tax dollars to pay back those bonds.
Mike Heiligenstein has been serving on their board of directors since the Mobility Authority was first created and has served Williamson County for 23 years making him an expert and one of the best people to put on the discussion panel at the Growth Summit. He has the ability to implement whatever course of action necessary to help with Austin’s capacity issue.