Williamson County Traffic Discussion
The issue of transportation has been a trending topic in Texas over the past few years. In the past, much attention has been given to the city. Thus, county officials and experts felt the need to spread the focus to the areas surrounding Austin.
County staff and experts in different sectors of the transportation industry convened at the Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel and Conference Centre to discuss how technology is causing a shift in the transportation sector in the Austin region and the world. The discussions also tried to tackle various challenges facing transportation in the area.
Prominent people who attended the meeting included Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority Director Mike Heiligenstein, transportation planner Jared Ficklin, and representatives from RideScout and Uber. Leandre Johns, Texas Internal Affairs director, was also in attendance.
In the discussion, Mike Heiligenstein stated that Austin needed to invest in transportation capacity in the area by mainly building larger and smarter roads to ease traffic in the area. Heiligenstein also noted in his talk that ridesharing apps such as Uber and driverless vehicles could revolutionize the transportation structure in the region and across the world. Since most of the population growth in Williamson County is in the suburbs, Heiligenstein suggested that building more roads would help curb the mobility demands of the residents.
Jared Ficklin highlighted that building and land-use codes needed to remain flexible after being asked a question on preparing for future transportation needs. The idea of driverless vehicles popped up a couple of times in the discussion. Heiligenstein was not optimistic about the adoption rate of driverless vehicles in the future. He pointed out that the rate might be slow and tiresome.
John, a representative for Uber, argued that ridesharing apps such as Uber would help commuters in the area and would be a good solution for public transit’s first-mile/last-mile problem. The summit proved successful with many brilliant ideas pitched forward by the transportation experts.
The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority was founded in 2002. Mike was appointed as director a year after it was established. Before 2003, Mike worked for more than two decades as an elected official of City of Round Rock. Mike also serves as a board member of the advisory board of Texas A & M Transportation Institute.
Heiligenstein attended the University of Texas where he earned a master’s degree in business administration and another one in government.