Towards the end of 2016, numerous experts met at the Williamson County Growth Summit in Texas to discuss transportation issues and its future. These transportation discussions are typically centered around Austin itself, but this discussion in particularly was focused on not only Austin as a city, but also the area’s suburban communities.
Panelists like Uber Technologies Inc.’s Leandrea Johns, ArgoDesign’s Jared Ficklin, RideScout LLC’s founder Joseph Kopser, and Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority’s (CTRMA) Executive Director Mike Heiligenstein met at the discussion to take an opportunity to address transportation, technology, and how the two are changing in the Austin area and all over the world.
Executive Director of the CTRMA Mike Heiligenstein noted that even though newer transportation technologies like ridesharing apps and driverless cars could definitely transform the transportation industry, there are basic issues that still need to be addressed. He believes that regardless of this innovative technology, the Austin area still has a tremendous need to invest in its transportation capacity by building more roads and smarter roads. He believes this is the only way to meet the transportation demands of the ever-growing suburban population of the Austin area.
When the Mayor of Round Rock (and panel moderator) asked the panel a question regarding what they believed policymakers must do to prepare for future transportation needs, Jared Ficklin from ArgoDesign had a few ideas. He believes that building codes need to remain flexible for future needs and gave the panel a formidable example. With more autonomous vehicles being produced, cities will need parking garages that are only needed to be five feet tall per level, with numerous charging stations on each level. Since those specifications don’t currently fit into any current building code, policymakers must remain flexible to fit the needs of the future.
Mike Heiligenstein knows even though they must address the future needs of technology and transportation, the area still needs to address the transportation needs of the present. He believes they must improve the capacity for roads and buses. Because of Austin’s continuous growth, improvements in mass transit seem to nullify.
The CTRMA is an independent agency that was created in 2002 to help improve transportation in both Travis and Williamson counties. As Executive Director of the CTRMA, Mike Heiligenstein leads the agency in its endeavors.
He has represented local citizens for over two decades, assisting in efforts to expand wastewater, water, and transportation infrastructure in the local area. Mike Heiligenstein is also a member of the Texas Department of Transportation’s Texas Technology Task Force.
Follow him @mheiligenstein