The recent Williamson County Growth Summit was deliberately intended to discuss the transportation challenges facing the whole Austin region. The previous summits were somehow limited to the metropolitans of Austin only.
The discussion involved high ranking individuals like the Chief Executive Officer of Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority Mike Heiligenstein, the founder and manager of RideScout LLC Joseph Kopser, Uber Technologies Inc Texas regional coordinator Leandre Johns and the manager and director of ArgoDesign’s Jared Ficklin.
Jared Ficklin is a transportation focused designer who recently proposed a new aerial gondola system for Austin County. The event was held at the ultra-modern Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel and Conference Center. The main agenda was how the modern transportation systems in the world would affect Austin and how they will cope with it.
Heiligenstein observed that Austin still needs to invest in the construction of smarter roads and buildings while increasing the total capacity of roads. The continued increase of influx of people into the county will be well served by that investment than banking on the current crop of transportation technologies like ridesharing and driverless vehicles.
He continued to applaud Williamson for an outstanding job over the previous fifteen years regarding the structure of infrastructure but the number of people migrating to the town will continue to increase. Continued building of roads and expanding their capacities to the maximum will reach an upper limit someday. The roads should then be made smarter, technically advanced and more efficient.
Alan McGraw, the Round Rock Mayor and the debates panel moderator, asked on what policymakers like him need to do to ensure that they cater for the future transportation needs. Ficklin answered that they should ensure that the land codes remain temporary forever. This is going to be important when autonomous vehicles start being a common thing on our roads. The future’s parking garage will be more than five feet tall and of multiple levels.
Heiligenstein was not really enthusiastic about the idea of driverless cars but stated that autonomous vehicles would not be easily accepted by the community. Autonomous vehicles adoption will be gradual hence it is wise to improve the road capacity and the size of buses. He went ahead and predicted that they would come a time when twelve lane roads will be common. Uber ride is, however, a good idea to take people from public transit substations to their homes and vice versa.