Mobilizing The Immobile Authority

D3
April 11, 2017

According to most accounts, Austin TX and its surrounding communities are conflicted with few transit options yet plentiful challenges regarding the region’s traffic. In December of 2016, Williamson County assembled an panel to discuss possible solutions to its traffic problem. The panel is known as the Mobility Authority. Although several possibilities were mentioned, there is one that stands out like a grapefruit in a vineyard.

It was the proposal issued by ArgoDesigns’s Jared Ficklin. Jared Ficklin proposed an aerial gondola system for Central Austin. Aside from traffic problems, Williamson County is facing technological problems as well. Driver-less vehicles and ride-sharing apps are changing the way we view modes of transportation.

We are in the era of smartphones, where mobility is prioritized. Everyone is always on the move. Services like Uber and Lyft have changed the way we drive around town. Another option presented was a tech solution.

One person pertinent in bringing about solutions is Mike Heiligenstein. Mike Heiligenstein is the Executive Director of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority for Austin, Texas. Since its inception, Mike has been apart of the Mobility Authority. In addition, Mike Heiligenstein oversaw the development of their first project.

Recently, the Mobility Authority opened the 290 Toll Manor Expressway project, and is constructing Express Lanes on MoPac Loop 1. Also, the Mobility Authority is also collaborating with regional transportation entities to study six other planned expressways across the Central Texas area. Learn more about Mike Heiligenstein: http://ibtta.org/sites/default/files/documents/Heiligenstein_Mike_formatted%20with%20Picture_2014.pdf

Currently, Mike serves as President of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association. For over 23 years, Mike served citizens of Williamson County as a public official. According to Crunchbase, Time and time again, Mike Heiligenstein has proven he understands the needs of the people of Williamson County.

Previous achievements of the Mobility Authority include the U.S. 290 toll road between Austin and Manor. As a result, it tripled the capacity of the previous road while improving non-toll lanes that were there before. Future projects include making “smart roads.”

Fiber lines would be embedded along the 183 South project between US 290 and the airport. Of course, this would take place when vehicles have the ability to talk to road infrastructure. A key problem mentioned by the authority is congestion created by the repetitive starting and stopping of drivers on busy roadways.

In most cases, it is caused by minor breakdowns. Getting drivers moving again or off the road quickly would make dramatic improvements on congestion.