Williamson County held its growth summit at the Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel several months ago. The summit presented an opportunity for stakeholders to discuss the transportation challenges facing the suburban communities in Austin.
The panel comprised of Leandre Johns who is the director of external affairs in Texas for Uber, Mike Heiligenstein who is the executive director of Central Texas Mobility Authority, and Joseph Kopser who is the founder of RideScout.
Heiligenstein called for the need for more roads to be built and the need to make these roads smarter. He mentioned that this was the only way they could meet the mobility demands of the growing population of the suburbs. He acknowledged that autonomous cars would play a big part in transportation in the future.
He stated that adoption could be slow and it would take time for these technologies to be fully integrated. Johns said that ride-sharing companies would help people to access public transit quicker. This would reduce the number of cars on the road since more people would opt for public transportation.
Mike Heiligenstein has served as the director of the Central Texas Mobility Authority since it was started in 2002. Heiligenstein worked as a civil servant in Williamson County for 23 years before joining the body.
According to Biz Journals, Heiligenstein serves as the president of the International Bridge, Tunnel, and Turnpike Association. Heiligenstein is a member of several transportation committees in Austin including the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.
The authority is developing MoPac Express Lanes which will incorporate variable tolling to regulate traffic flow. The system will control the supply and demand of the roads and ensure that traffic flow is predictable.
They are also planning to add fiber lines to the projects that they are developing so that cars can communicate with the roadway. These smart roads will be able to monitor road activity and provide a wholesome experience to motorists in the end.
CTRMA collaborated with Metropia to develop a mobile app that recommends alternative routes in real-time. The app is directly connected to the traffic monitoring system. It can detect the roads are congested and those that are not.
There are close to a million empty seats on cars each day. This results from the drivers who travel alone. CTRMA realized that this was a big problem and that is why they partnered with Carma to fill these empty seats. Carma is a carpooling app. Congestion will decrease if the cars are reduced on the road.
Learn more about Mike Heiligenstein: http://www.dot.state.tx.us/ttf2009/People/MikeHeiligenstein.htm