The Williamson County Growth Summit explored some of the ways that traffic can be eased for Williamson County and the nearby city of Austin, Texas. Williamson County is one of the suburban counties around the city of Austin that is seeing rapid growth in the Austin metro area. An increase in population is putting extra strain on area roadways. There is already traffic during rush hour and the growth summit was held to come up with new and exciting innovations that would cut traffic.
At the center of the summit was a panel that featured the director of the Central Texas Mobility Authority, Mike Heiligenstein. This is the government organization that plans and funds the construction of roadways and public transit in Central Texas which includes Austin and Williamson County. Mr. Heligenstein has helped turn the Central Texas Mobility Authority into a functioning and financially viable institution that has helped lay out a path towards sustainable growth for Central Texas. He has also served as an elected official from Williamson County for many years. During his time there, he has helped expand sewer, transportation and water infrastructure to meet growing needs.
Alongside Mike Heiligenstein was on demand taxi company representative, Leandre Johns, of Uber and the town of Round Rock Mayor, Alan McGraw. Other members of the panel included Jared Ficklin, from a public transportation design company called Argo Design and the creator of transportation information company Ridescout LLC, Joseph Kopser. Each offered their own input to solving the traffic issues found in Williamson County and Austin.
Jared Ficklin, a transportation designer said that Austin could have an aerial gondola system to transport people from one part of the town to another. This could help ease traffic on crowded city streets. Mayor of Round Rock, Alan McGraw stressed the importance of making land use and building codes flexible and open to new innovation. This would make it easier to accommodate new growth and technology. Uber’s Leandre Johns said that Uber could help transport people to and from public transportation hubs cheaply, quickly and reliably. This could increase mass transit ridership and cut traffic.
Mike Heiligenstein from the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, said that he foresees a need for expanded roadways leading into and out of Austin that are used by commuters from Williamson County. He also states that roads must be made smarter and public transit expanded to meet the needs of a growing population. He also mentioned he would love to see more bus service and a dedicated bus lane.