A lot of transit discussions in Austin area mostly focus on the city but the Williamson County Growth Summit recently had an opportunity to look at the transportation challenges affecting the community. The panel involved in the discussion was made up of RideScout LLC founder, Joseph Kopser, Mike Heiligenstein (CTRMA executive director), Leandre Johns (Texas external affairs director) and Jared Ficklin (ArgoDesign). Jared, a product designer who is focused on transportation, proposed that Central Austin should have an aerial gondola system. In the event that took place at Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel & Conference Center, the discussion centered on the role technology is playing in changing transportation across the globe and particularly in the Austin region.
Heiligenstein noted that the new technologies like ridesharing apps and driverless vehicles would transform transportation in a radical way. However, he believes that the Austin area requires investing in growing the transportation capacity it has currently by developing additional and smarter roads. He concluded that this would be the best solution to meet the mobility demands of the population that is growing rapidly. Most of the growth is being experienced in suburbs like Williamson County.
Preparing for Future Transportation Needs
Ficklin on his part emphasized that land-use and building codes should be flexible as he responded to a question raised by the panel moderator, Alan McGraw (Round Rock Mayor). The panel moderator was seeking to find out what the policymakers thought would be required in preparation of future transport needs. Ficklin added that roads and parking garages would still be a necessity even when vehicles will be autonomous. He also predicted that future parking garages will be about five feet tall and have multiple levels.
About Mike Heiligenstein
Mike Heiligenstein is Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority’s executive director in Austin, Texas. This autonomous government agency was founded in 2002 to plan a contemporary regional transportation network in Central Texas. The current and future projects of the Mobility Authority form key elements of a well planned multi-modal system of transportation that is designed to meet the varied mobility needs of the region that is growing fast. Mike has been at the Mobility Authority from when it was incepted and oversaw the 183A project in Williamson County.
Mike is currently serving in various other positions like he is the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association’s president. He serves on the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s advisory board and other working groups and committees handling transportation issues. Before heading Mobility Authority, he had served Williamson County’s residents as a public official for 23 years.