Williamson County’s Growth Sumamit provided a forum where members addressed the challenges facing Austin’s suburban communities. The panel at the summit included; Mike Heiligenstein (Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority Executive Director), Uber Technologies External Affairs Director for Texas Leandre Johns and Jared Ficklin of ArgoDesigns. The event, whose venues were the Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel and Conference Center, focused on how technology has revolutionized the transport system in Austin and all over the world. Mr. Heiligenstein observed that ridesharing apps and driverless vehicles had transformed the transportation sector, but in the Austin area the problem could be tackled by building more roads.
When asked about transportation needs in the future by Panel Moderator Round Rock Mayor Alan McGraw, Ficklin said that the levels of the parking garage of the future would be five feet tall, just an inch taller than the vehicles. He added that the multiple levels would include a service station and a charging station. He then noted that would not fit any current building code.
The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority is an independent government agency created in 2002 with the intention of designing a modern transportation system for in Travis and Williamson counties in Central Texas. The mission of the organization is to offer smart, multi-modal transportation solutions which will ease congestion and make life easier for the ever-growing suburban community. Seven members of the board of directors are in charge of the Mobility Authority. The Governor appoints the chairman while the Williamson and Travis County Commissioner Courts each three members. The agency operates under the Texas Transportation Code Chapter 370. It has the authority to offer revenue bonds to fund projects and use taxes to repay them.
Mike Heiligenstein is the executive director of the Mobility Authority and has been with it since its inception. The first project of the agency was 183A Williamson County, where it led the transition to cashless toll collection in the country. Mike served as a public official in Williamson County for 23 years before he became head of the Mobility Authority. He serves as the president of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association. He also serves on the advisory boards of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute and other committees tackling issues in the transportation sector.