A few years ago, Mike Heiligenstein, the executive director of Central Texas Mobility Authority, was interviewed for fifteen minutes when he was at the Texas Department of Transportation forum. The discussion was concerning the increasing infrastructure needs within the state. The questions centered around the lower usage of State Highway 130, the future of Texas toll roads, the congestion of the roads in Austin, and poor road conditions of Eagle Ford Shale. They asked Heiligenstein why highway 130 wasn’t being used more often and mentioned how Moody’s downgraded the highway’s credit rating twice because of the low usage. Another question is whether or not there is a case to be made concerning toll roads since several toll roads in recent years had low financial performance due to high gas prices and a weak economy. And the last question was whether or not toll roads can improve the road conditions in Eagle Ford Shale.
To answer those questions, Heiligenstein said the following: It’s not enough just to move vehicles to SH 130,but to also figure out strategies for changing the behavior of travel, add capacity, and to be multi-modal. He also stated Interstate 35 is almost unsolvable in regards to the next 20 years of the growing demand. As far as the toll roads go, they are not the only solution, and it’s not a debate anymore concerning the toll roads. Over $1 billion has been retrieved from public dollars into a program for construction. Nevertheless, many techniques as possible are needed. He also stated how county roads are not equipped to handle the demand and weight of trucks or machine and farm equipment; however, it’s possible to implement a system using toll-type tags so that trucks will be charged using the county roads. He also said that another possible option is to make a zone where a tax increment financing technique can be applied.
About Mike Heiligenstein and the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority
In addition to being the executive director of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, he is also on the boards of the Tunnel and Turnpike Association, and the Texas Transportation Institute. For 30 years, he served as a public official as a member of the Round Rock City Council and then as the Williamson County Commissioner. His educational achievements include him earning a bachelors degree in government from the University of Texas, and him earning his masters of business administration and masters of government from the University of Texas.