In January 2014, Mike Heiligenstein, the executive director of Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority was interviewed for fifteen minutes. The discussion covered the rising demands for modern infrastructure in Texas. The interview focused on his observations and opinion on the toll roads in Texas and his thoughts on the possibilities of the roads causing traffic issues in the state. He also addressed the solutions put in place to deal with the problems.
The first question addressed the State Highway 130 road. Mike was asked why the road experienced no traffic yet it has been downgraded. According to Mr. Heiligenstein, the demand for the 130 roads is high, and the issues of the road lie with Interstate 35 being in need of more attention in the next decades. He also added that other places did not have the right road structure to support many lanes either vertically or horizontally. Mike stated that most experts hold the view that with increased capacity of the road, there will be increased automobiles to the 130 roads through dispatch. He indicated that the long term solution is increased road capacity to beat traffic.
Mike believes that there are many solutions in addressing road problems to reduce traffic. To him, toll roads should not be part of the road issues because they have a significant financial input to the society. Toll roads have part of the bigger solutions when it comes to solving issues about the roads. Mike was optimistic about toll roads given that in Austin, they received a funding of approximately $ 1 billion to suffice the extension. He also said that the investors make a huge part of the project set aside for building roads. In the last project of traffic, the budget was approximately $ 300 million. The investors pledged through more than ten subscriptions. With such support, Mike was sure of better, modern roads in future.
He is the current head cheerleader of the Central Texas Regional Mobility known as CTRM. This is an independent agency from the government. It was established in 2002 with the aim to design a state of the art modern and regional transport network. Its operations commenced in 2003 with Mike as the leader.
Mike serves as the board chair of the Texas Transportation Institute as well as International Bridge and Tunnel Association.
Traffic congestion has been a challenge around the world for decades. However, Williamson County is taking the issue seriously by employing technology to solve the transport crisis. Transit experts have met during the Williamson County Growth Summit to discuss the different ways in, which traffic congestion can be wiped out. The focus has not been on the city alone but also the suburb communities. The summit meeting was held at Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel & Conference Center. The theme of the meeting was to discuss how the transport sector is changing in the age of rising technology globally and more specifically in Austin region.
In attendance was Mike Heiligestein who works as the Executive Director of Central Texas Regional Mobility and Joseph Kopser who is the founder of RideScout LLC. Other transit experts who attended the summit include Leandre Johns who is the Texas External Affairs Director at Uber Technologies and Jared Ficklin, who works as the transport-focused product designer with a company called ArgoDesign. Heiligenstein indicated that technology could change the transport sector with the emergence of applications like ridesharing and driverless cars. He also added that Austin needed more investment in terms of infrastructure due to the growing population. Ficklin emphasized that there was need to develop roads and parking garages. This is because even with the emergence of technology, still a smart road is a basic requirement.
Mike Heiligestein Changing Transport
Mike Heiligestein has been serving Williamson County for over 23 years. Today, he serves in the Central Texas Mobility Authority as the Executive Director. This is an agency created in 2002 with an aim of solving the transport crisis. The growing needs prompted the government to come up with an independent agency that would formulate solutions for the transport sector. Due to the fast growth being experienced in the region, there was need to develop reliable and long lasting solutions.
Mike has been on the team working to develop transport solutions since the agency was introduced. The first project was labeled 183A, which was based in Williamson County with an aim of transforming the toll collection to an electronic or cashless system. Previously, it launched the 290 Toll project. It is also currently working on the Express Lane. Over the years, Mike has been serving at the International Bridge, Turnpike and Tunnel Association. He is also in the Texas A&M Transport Institute as part of the advisory board. He is also engaged with other different groups to help solve the transport crisis.