Many discussions on the transit industry in Austin region of Texas concentrate on the city. However, the Williamson County Growth Summit held in 2016, discussed ways to improve infrastructure and transport in the area’s suburbs.
The Panel includes the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority’s Mike Heiligenstein (Executive Director), Joseph Kopser (founder, RideScout LLC), Leandre Johns (Austin’s Regional Director of Uber Technologies Inc.), and Jared Fickling (Argo Designs). The discussion was held at the Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel & Conference Center.
Heiligenstein said that the Austin region of Texas needs to rectify transportation problems, mainly by constructing more and better roads, which is the only way to accommodate the transport demands of the continually growing population of the region including counties like Williamson.
Alan McGraw (Round Rock Mayor) said that Williamson had improved its infrastructure in the past 15 years, but they are expecting rapid population increase. Williamson should, therefore, keep expanding its infrastructure capacities.
Argo Design’s Jared Ficklin said that building codes and land-use codes should be more flexible. For instance, future parking garage levels will only be five feet tall, slightly taller than cars. However, this is presently not possible with the existing building codes.
Heiligenstein acknowledged driverless vehicles and their importance today. However, he insisted that more focus should be given to the expansion of roads because soon, Austin’s growth rate will nullify any mass transit improvements made.
Uber’s Leandre Johns said that commuters of Austin area need suitable transport solutions for when they travel to and fro the city’s mass transit stops. He added that companies like Uber could provide these solutions.
Mike Heiligenstein heads Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority as its Executive Director. The independent transit authority was founded in 2002. It intends to design a modern transportation network in Central Texas. Mike has been with the mobility authority from its inception, and he oversaw project 183A – its first project development. He is the president of International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association. Presently, he is a member of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s advisory board.