A group of individuals met for a discussion regarding the transportation challenges faced in suburban communities in the Austin region and how technology is impacting transportation. This event took place at the Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel & Conference Center and included Mike Heiligenstein, the executive director of Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority.
Though Heiligenstein realizes that there will most certainly be drastic changes to transportation caused by technological advancement, he still believes that an investment in the expansion of infrastructure is necessary in order to meet the demands of the growing population in the suburbs.
One of the panel members pointed out that it is important for building codes to remain flexible in order to accommodate the advances in technology such as driverless cars. Heiligenstein, however, is skeptical and does not believe the use of autonomous vehicles will grow as rapidly as expected.
Leandre Johns, external affairs director for Uber Technologies, believes that ridesharing meets the needs of commuters in the area by providing them a way to get from their home to another source of public transportation such as the bus stop.
Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority is an independent government agency that was created in 2002 with the objective of designing an innovative transportation network for Central Texas in order to reduce congestion and provide commuters with transportation options.
Executive Director Mike Heiligenstein has been with the Authority since it began. He has overseen major projects such as 183A in Williamson County, which implemented a fully automated cashless toll collection system. Heiligenstein is also President of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Associate. He studied at the University of Texas at Austin and earned a Bachelors and Masters Degrees in both Government and Business Administration. Prior to being selected to serve as Executive Director of the Authority, Heiligenstein served his community as both a Round Rock City Council member and a Williamson County Commissioner.