Austin and its suburbs are facing a transportation dilemma. As the area continues to see a growing number of people moving in from other U.S. States, roads are becoming congested. In the current framework, the area does not have the capacity to deal with large number of cars. As a result, Austin needs a practical solution for its transportation needs that is consistent with its growth.
To solve the riddle, prominent transportation experts and policymakers convened at the Williamson County Growth Summit at the Sheraton Convention Center to discuss the issue. According to Mike Heiligenstein, the Executive Director of Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, it is not possible to tackle the transportation problem just by improving the Public Mass Transit System or by using the ride-sharing services. In fact, authorities will need to build additional road networks and improve the current capacity of roads to help commuters.
Mike insisted that the population growth in the area will have a huge impact on the future requirements in the area. Accordingly, any type of improvement in the Mass Transit and other alternative systems cannot cope with the 5 percent increase in population. In fact, even the driver-less cars are not an answer to the problem because the adaption rate of the drive less-cars will be slow. Even if driver less cars could resolve the problem, the city will need additional road networks to facilitate such cars. Responding to public queries, Mike Heiligenstein suggested that the city also needs 12 lanes of traffic on U.S. Highway 183 and State Highway 290.
Other participants such as Alan McGraw suggested that the government should allow more flexibility in existing building codes. In the future, the laws will need to define regulations for smart parking garages and charging stations for future cars. Similarly, policymakers and decision-makers of ride sharing companies emphasized that services such as Uber can solve the first and last mile solutions making it convenient for commuters to reach mass transit facilities.
Mike Heiligenstein is the Executive Director of Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. The CTRMA is an independent government agency to oversee transportation issues in Williamson and Travis counties. During his tenure, Mike has overseen a number of expansion projects including the development of the first all-electronic cashless toll collection on 183A in Williamson County. He is also instrumental in the development of Express Lanes. Before presiding over CTMRA, Mike served the Williamson Country as a public official for over 23 years.