Mike Heiligenstein is the Director of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority in Austin, Texas. This independent government agency designs regional transportation networks that cater needs for the rapidly growing population in the region. Mike has been with the organization since the beginning when the cashless toll collection project was born.
At the Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel & Conference Center, there was a discussion on how technology is changing our transport systems in the Austin region and globally. The members present were Leandre Johns, the Texas External Affairs Director, RideScout LLC, founder Joseph Kopser, Uber Technologies Inc., Argo Design’s Jared Ficklin, a transportation-based product developer and designer and of course Mike Heiligenstein.
He continued to say that the only way to serve the growing population in cities like Austin, especially in the suburbs, is increasing its transportation capabilities by constructing technically advanced roads.
When autonomous vehicles came up in the discussion, Mike was not very positive about it. He said that their adoption would be slow and tedious. Mike emphasized that focus on increasing the road’s capacity is still needed. He reasoned that Austin’s growth rate would cancel out any upgrades from the growing use of mass transit. He predicted that twelve lane roads on State Highway 290 and U.S. Highway 183, Austin, shall be needed
First- and last-mile solutions for Austin also came up in the discussion. Uber’s Johns argued that his ridesharing company could be fit for such a task. He continued to say that people need to see that they have an alternative to their cars when it comes to taking care of the first and last mile problem.
Heiligenstein has also engaged the MoPac project as part of the mobility solutions for the region. He recognizes the problem at hand, congestion in the area, and is very determined to offer practical solutions for it. He believes technology is the way forward as it curbs the current difficulties the region is facing.
Pedestrian and bicycle paths shall be provided for public use in upcoming and ongoing projects. It is worth noting that the solutions to the congestion issue should not be alienated from the people. The community should join hands and contribute where they can.