Williamson County Growth Summit held on Thursday was a great opportunity to discuss emerging challenges facing transportation industry and the needs of the rural region communities.
The discussion panel included the various executives from multiple departments such as Mike Heiligenstein who is the executive director of Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, Joseph Kopser who founded RideScoutt LLC. The panel also included Argo Design’s Jared Ficklin as well as Texas External Affairs Director. Jared Ficklin is a transportation-focused designer who proposed an aerial gondola system for Central Austin. This event was held at Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel and Conference Center. The core of discussion mainly focused on technology in the transportation industry in Austin region and across the world.
Heiligenstein noted that there is a need for Austin region to improve and build more and smarter roads which will result to improved infrastructures in the area. He further explained that with improved roads, the city could then embrace the technology of driverless vehicles and ridesharing apps which can radically transform mobility in Austin region. Heiligenstein noted that that is the most suitable and appropriate way of managing the emerging mobility demands due to high growth population especially in suburb areas including Williamson region.
Heiligenstein appreciates the amazing and excellent job done by Williamson by structuring improved infrastructures for 15 years. But he further urges that a lot needs to be done since more people are moving into the area. He encourages the Williamson to build more roads and also expand the capacities. Also to make the area more advanced and technology efficient.
Ficklin while responding to a question asked by Round Rock Mayor Alan McGrow, the panel moderator, he clarified that building and land-use codes should remain flexible to ensure proper preparation for future transportation needs. He says despite having autonomous vehicles every other stuff remains relevant including parking garages and roads. Ficklin says the garages will have to be five feet taller, an inch bigger than the vehicle and multiple charging stations will be needed.
Mike Heiligenstein serves as the executive director of Texas Regional Mobility Authority in Austin region. The Authority is an independent agency that was formed in 2002 to mainly plan and design modern regional transportation which is more advanced technologically. The authority has current and future strategies of superior mobility which is carefully designed to meet fast-growing region’s needs of transportation. He is also the president of International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association.