Most of the discussions regarding transit focus directly on the city of Austin. The discussion in Williamson County however, focused on transportation in the suburbs. Mike Heiligenstein was the expert on mobile authority and there has been an aerial gondola system proposed for the area in Central Austin. The discussions talked about how much technology has changed the capabilities of transportation. Mike is the current director for the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority.
Mike noted that technology has made driverless vehicles and applications to share rides possible and that this will give Austin opportunities they have not had before. He stated Austin still needs to develop their transportation systems and specifically have smarter roads constructed. He believes the transportation growth in the suburbs must be met before the needs of the growing population can be reached.
Many subjects were discussed, such as parking garages only five feet in height with multiple levels for parking and service stations and newer, smarter roads to accommodate all of the cars and trucks. With so many vehicles in the Austin area, this is only one of the many issues needing to be addressed.
The rate Austin is growing will nullify all the current efforts regarding roads and mass transit. Eventually, a twelve lane highway on both U.S. Highway 183 and the State Highway 290 will become a necessity. Solutions such as sharing rides or taking a bus were discussed but people must first be convinced there are viable options besides driving their own cars.
Mike Heiligenstein works for the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority in the position of Executive Director. The agency is located in Austin Texas and was started in 2002 with the purpose of finding a modernized transportation network that would work well in Central Texas. They are planning to implement a system that will be capable of meeting the needs in this extremely quickly growing area. Mike has been a part of the Authority since it first began and oversaw the first project they did. This established a fully electronic toll collection that did not require cash. This was known as the Manor Expressway project and it is currently open. There are also six different expressways planned to be built all across the Central Texas area.