Mike Heiligenstein, the Executive Director of Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority or CTRMA, is known for bringing many revolutionary movements that addressed the transport issues of Central Texas. He largely bets on technology, and Heiligenstein believes that many of the traffic problems can be sorted out using technology. However, he understands that there are occasions where the capacity expansion could only be the solution to address the traffic issues. For instance, U.S. 290 between Manor and Austin almost tripled the capacity of the existing roads and considerably improved the capacity of non-toll roads as well. 183A Toll Road between Leander and Cedar Park is another example of improving capacity, significantly.
Heiligenstein says that the heart of CTRMA is to innovate and find better solutions for the travelers. The upcoming MoPac Express Lanes display a sophisticated technology to implement variable tolling to manage the traffic flow. Heiligenstein says that variable tolling would significantly change the focus to need of the hour and ensure a smooth flow of traffic for people who need to a quick transport. Additionally, the variable tolling can guarantee a predictable flow of traffic throughout the day. It would also ensure the Express Lane steadily moving even during rush hours. The Mobility Authority is also planning to build “smart roads” in future that can communicate with vehicles and detect any wrong way ups.
Under him, CTRMA collaborated with Metropia and created an app that is connected to the Authority’s integrated traffic monitoring system to offer alternate routes and traffic information to commuters. It is also working with Carma to create a carpooling app that can encourage people to share their ride. A recent study has shown that as many as 900,000 empty car seats reported in Austin with driver-alone rides in any day. If a sizable number of those seats are filled by pooling, it can significantly reduce the traffic on the roads, per Heiligenstein. CTRMA also has laid out plans to encourage people to walk and pedal, wherever possible.
Mike Heiligenstein is with CTRMA from when the agency founded in 2002. He oversaw that expansion plans and technology implementation of the organization and helped it grow from a mere startup to a national leader in toll road operations. Before joining CTRMA, Heiligenstein has more than three decades of experience in working as a public official. Initially, he was elected as the Council Member of Round Rock City and later as the County Commissioner of Williamson. Heiligenstein is also on the advisory boards of many transport organizations and agencies in the country.