CENTRAL TEXAS REGIONAL MOBILITY AUTHORITY: IMPROVING TRANSPORT IN TRAVIS AND WILLIAMSON COUNTIES

Following excessive traffic congestion, the state of Texas passed a law in 2001 which established the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) in 2002. This is a transport authority that seeks to come up with a comprehensive transport network in Williamson and Travis counties. Its aim is to improve swift movement and reduce congestion. It does this by constructing toll roads, expanding the existing traffic lanes and setting up programs and mobile applications to ease with the problem of congestion. The authority uses funds raised from sale of bonds which accounts for 70% and the remaining 30% from the Texas Department of Transport. Since its inception, the company has managed to grow gaining assets worth $1.8 billion.

 

 

CTRMA is made up of seven members. The chair is elected by the governor of Texas. Mike Heiligenstein, is the current chair and executive director of CTRMA. He has held the position since 2002 when CTRMA began operating. The Commissioners Court in Travis County appoints three members and the same goes for that of Williamson County. CTRMA appreciates the efforts of the team and compensates them adequately. For example, in 2016, Heiligenstein, received a compensation of $336, 112. This is way higher than the $299, 812 paid to the Texas Department of Transportation’s executive director.

 

 

Under the leadership of Heiligenstein, CTRMA has managed to build several roads for example, the U.S 183 A and the 290 East. The authority also issues toll tags along these highways. Additionally, CTRMA has set up a program to assist stranded motorist on the highways. The program is called the Highway Emergency Response Operator (HERO). In 2015, it assisted 14480 motorists through relocation of faulty vehicles and removing debris from the lanes. CTRMA has also set up two apps; CARMA to facilitate ridesharing and Metropia to encourage people to travel during off-peak hours.

 

 

Heiligenstein understands CTRMA better than any other person and is directly concerned with the traffic conditions in the area. He represented CTRMA during the 19Th Austin Business Journal ‘s annual Williamson County Growth Summit. At this forum he emphasized on the need for a better road infrastructure claiming that as much as technological solutions are being sought, transport will only improve if the overall infrastructure in place is made better. He has served in public positions in Williamson County for over 20 years. He is also on the board of several transport based councils. Some of these include the Texas Transportation Institute Advisory council and the Tunnel and Turnpike Association.