Transit experts came together during the 18th Williamson County Growth Summit to offer their contributions on how to tackle traffic which is the biggest challenge facing the County. The experts also discussed the role that technology plays in transport infrastructure and how it had changed the transportation industry in Austin and all over the world. Those present in the summit panel included Mike Heiligenstein, Leandre Johns, Joseph Kosper, and Jared Ficklin. Mike Heiligenstein said that inventive technologies like applications for ridesharing and vehicles without drivers could transform the face of transportation. Mike added that the Austin region should invest in expanding its capacity for transportation by construction more and smarter roads.
Mike added that building more roads that are smarter is the only way to serve the demands of a fast expanding population like the County of Williamson. He said that the county had done an exemplary work of structuring its infrastructure over the past fifteen years, but more still needs to be done. Leandre Johns works for Uber Technologies, Inc. He said that the commuters in Austin require first and last mile solutions that will be able to get them on and off the public transit. Johns stated that ridesharing firms such as Uber would nicely fit that mold.
CTRMA (Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority) is an independent agency that belongs to the government. It was started in 2002. The aim of the organization is to enhance the transportation system both in Travis and Williamson counties. The Mission of CTRMA is to implement new transportation solutions so as to reduce congestions and come up with transportation options that improve economic vitality and quality of life. A 7-member Board of Directors oversees the CTRMA. The County’s Governor appoints the Chairman.
Mike Heiligenstein is the Executive Director of CTRMA. He has a distinguished profession in the infrastructure development in Central Texas. Mike was selected by the Board to be the leader of the agency after CTRMA was officially launched in 2003. Mike has worked as an elected official in the County of Williamson for more than 23 years where he represented the citizens of Central Texas. Mike has been involved in lead efforts to expand transportation infrastructure, water, and wastewater. CTRMA has a program that expects to acquire assets worth $4 billion by 2020 under the leadership of Mike Heiligenstein. Mike was chosen as the President of the International Bridge, Tunnel, and Turnpike Association by the National peers in 2014. He also serves on the Advisory Council at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.