For a long time transit discussions concerning Austin mainly focus on the city itself. However, last Thursday saw Williamson County Growth Summit discuss traffic issues affecting the suburban areas of the county. The summit opened discussion on transportation difficulties affecting the communities living the area.
In attendance at the meeting was Mike Heiligenstein, the Director for Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, Joseph Kopser, the founder of RideScout LLC and Leandre Johns, the Uber Technologies Inc. Director for Texas External Affairs and Jared Ficklin of ArgroDesigns who is also a transportation-focused designer and proposed Central Austin to have an aerial gondola system.
The Event was held at Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel & Conference Center.
Noting the impacts are adopting new technology such as driverless vehicles and ridesharing apps, Heiligenstein also pointed out that Austin still had a lot to do to expand its transportation capacity. He said the city needed to build more and smarter roads. According to his statement, this is the only way the city can manage serving the mobility demands of its rapidly growing population and especially in the suburbs such as Williamson County.
He added that over the past 15 years or son, Williamson County had done an incredible job of structuring its infrastructure. However, he noted that the county still had a long way to go since people visiting the area. He advised on the re-building and expansion of the roads and making the remaining corridors smarter, efficient and technically advanced.
Ficklin, on the other hand, responded to a question by Alan McGraw, Round Rock Mayor, on what lawmakers should do in preparation for future transportation needs. He said it was important that the building and land-use codes remain flexible.
Commenting on parking garages and roads, Ficklin added that even when the vehicles become autonomous, these two will still be a necessity. He noted the in future, parking garages will be five feet taller than the cars and will also have multiple levels with one level holding a charging station and another a service center. These features do not match the current building codes.
Heiligenstein kept calm when the issue on driverless cars arose. He said he was not as optimistic about the idea since its adoption rate might not meet their expectations. It might be slow and of course tedious. He stated that they needed to focus on improving the road and buses capacity.
According to John of Uber, it was important that the Austin region commuters get first and last mile solutions to get them on public transit.
About Mike Heiligenstein
Mike has been working for Texas Central Regional Mobility Authority since 2003 where currently he is the director. He is an active advocate for pedestrian and bicycle facilities and has always worked hard to provide such services whenever possible in his Mobility Authority projects.