Executive Director, Transportation

CTRMA Attacks Austin Traffic Problems with Multiple Strategies

Like many American cities, Austin has traffic congestion. In an article that appeared in the American Statesman in 2015, Mike Heiligenstein supports the publication’s position that implementing advanced technology is crucial to solving the area’s traffic problems. However, he argues that technology is only part of the solution. He adds that technology must be combined with a broad-based set of innovative strategies.

Heiligenstein is Executive Director of the Central Texas regional Mobility Authority, which is the agency charged with implementing solutions for transportation problems in Austin and surrounding areas. CTRMA is responsible for many projects, including the 183A Ceder Park toll road. In the article, Heiligenstein explains an innovative new project called the MoPac Express Lane. This system relies on technology to monitor traffic flow on highway express lanes. It uses a variable toll structure to adjust demand. Learn more about Mike Heiligenstein: https://twitter.com/mheiligenstein

Mike Heiligenstein describes other innovative steps CTRMA is taking to prepare for the “smart roads of the future. One is to embed fiberoptic lines in roadways. These roads will be ready when cars can interact with traffic control systems.

The agency has also developed apps for drivers to help speed traffic flow and relieve congestion. A carpooling app helps commuters find others willing to share rides. Another app allows drivers to receive real-time updates on traffic conditions.

The CTRMA does not rely only on high tech solutions for Austin’s growing need for urban transportation. Another project is developing pedestrian and bike paths wherever it is feasible. This provides alternatives to driving, especially for short trips.

Heiligenstein stresses that CTRMA does not have answers to every traffic problem. What the agency does have is a commitment to finding and implementing innovative solutions.

The CTRMA is authorized to implement and manage transportation projects in Travis and Williamson counties in central Texas. Their success has brought national recognition in recent years. The agency is governed by a seven member board. The chairman is appointed by the governor of Texas. Each county appoints three board members. CTRMA has the authority to fund projects with taxes and/or user fees.

According to Crunchbase, Mike Heiligenstein has been executive director of CTRMA since 2003. He has over 30 years experience in public service. Although he supports “smart roads” and other innovative approaches to managing traffic issues, he also has a people-centered philosophy.

He is an advocate for including bike and pedestrian paths in urban development plans. Heiligenstein attended the University of Texas and holds master’s degrees in government and business.