No one denies that the infrastructure in the United States is in trouble. Repairs and upgrades are needed, but there is little money available. Most, if not all, major cities are faced with traffic congestion problems. The central Texas counties of Travis and Williamson have faced these problems head on and developed innovative solutions to solve part of the problem through the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA). This agency, created in 2002, consists of seven board members, three appointed from Travis and Williamson Counties and one appointed by the governor. Its current Executive Director is Mike Heiligenstein and under his direction, has developed innovations and technologies to solve transportation problems which includes . video billing and all-electronic tolling when the 183A toll road was built.
Other innovations include the Highway Emergency Response Operator (HERO) which assists stranded motorists. In 2015, over 14,000 motorists were assisted which involved moving nonworking vehicles, changing tires, to providing water for drivers waiting for a tow. It also implemented CARMA, a smartphone app that connects drivers traveling the same route for rideshare opportunities. Current or future projects include extending the 183A toll road and improving the MoPac Expressway that serves the Austin Metropolitan Area. Under Heiligenstein’s leadership, this agency went from $0 assets in 2002 to over $1.8 billion today, despite the fact that it has no taxing authority, receives only 30% of its budget from the state, and sells investment bonds to the private sector to provide the majority of its revenue.
Mike Heiligenstein served the people of Williamson County for over 23 years, first as Round Rock City Councilman and then as Williamson County Commissioner. Appointed by the board of CTRMA in 2003, Heiligenstein has been at the forefront of finding solutions to local infrastructure problems. A graduate of the University of Texas with degrees in Government and Business Administration, he frequently speaks to groups across the United States about infrastructure problems and their solutions.