In the past, the Williamson Summit has paid more attention to the issues of Austin at the expense of Williamson County. This time around, there was a paradigm shift so to speak. The summit focused on how the advancement in technology is influencing transportation both globally and in Austin and her suburban communities.
The summit was graced by Mike Heiligenstein, Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority’s executive director. Others present were Joseph Kopser, founder of RideScout LLC, Leandre Johns and Jared Ficklin of Texas External Affairs and ArgoDesign respectively. Heiligenstein was quick to point out that the region needed to develop its transportation capacity to keep up with the technological changes that are emerging. Areas like Williamson County, he said, needed smart mobility plans to address its population increase.
Ficklin, of ArgoDesign, said building and land use codesought to remain flexible notwithstanding policy makers plans to address transportation needs of the future. According to Ficklin, the present building codes did not, for instance, provide for a design in building to incorporate a parking garage 5 feet high with a charging station and a service station in the same facility.
Roads need to be considered urgently, according to Heiligenstein. He said that population growth in the region would reduce the transport improvements made to naught. This urgency for road improvement became apparent at the conference. By his estimation, Heiligenstein argued that there was need for construction of a twelve lane on highway 183 and Austin’s State highway 290. According to Uber’s John, the first and last mile needed a solution to enable people access the off pubic exit.
He is Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority’s executive director. The authority is based in Austin Texas. This independent agency was established in 2002 and mandated to design a modern transportation network for Texas: Central Texas. Apart from Mike, the Mobility authority engages a few other professional staff. The authority relies on private sector engineers, who have specialized expertise in road construction, to assist in road projects.
Mike has worked with the authority from the beginning, overseeing the development of projects like 183A in the County. It’s one of first projects to move from the contemporary to a cashless revenue collection method. Recently, the authority under the leadership of Heiligenstein opened 290 Toll Expressway. The authority is also working on constructing lanes on MoPac. Together with the regional transport entities, the authority is studying six additional planned expressways all over Central Texas.
Heiligenstein also serves as President of International Bridge and Tunnel and Turnpike Association. He is on A&M Transportation Institute advisory board. Mike equally serves on other transportation related institutions. Prior to his current employment at the Mobility Authority, he was Williamson County’s public official for 23 years.