Mike Heiligenstein is the current executive director of Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA). On January 10, 2015, during the Texas Department of Transportation forum, he was asked to give his views on the future of toll roads in America’s second largest state, Texas. Here is what he had to say.
He was asked why many Texas drivers are not using the state highway (SH) 130. Here is his response.
SH 130 is meant to be effective in the future. This is because there is no solution to the increased traffic on Interstate 35 in the next 20 years. It is also almost impossible to get extra lanes in places like the Colorado River in Austin. The solution to the high traffic on San Antonio to Austin is taking trucks and cars to SH 130.
He was then asked whether it was important to develop toll roads given the poor financial performance in the past. This is how he responded.
Toll roads are an answer to the many road challenges. He cites Austin, where the program has been successful. For instance, no taxes were used in the expansion of 183A.
He added that investors always evaluate projects thoroughly to establish their viability before investing. It is also cheaper to source for funds from investors than selling bonds. Austin and San Antonio are attractive to investors and are expected to continue experiencing growth in the future.
He was also asked whether toll roads could be effective in addressing the challenges brought about by truck congestion in the Eagle Ford Shale. Here is his response.
Eagle Shale should come up with to charge the trucks that drive on the county roads. County roads cannot withstand the weight and demand of these trucks. Also, there should be the creation of a zone that allows for tax increment to finance production. He concluded by saying that counties without enough finances should not worry as the Texas Department of Commerce is going to help them get assistance.
Mike Heiligenstein and the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority
Mike Heiligenstein graduated with a government degree from the University of Texas. He has also done Masters of Government and business administration from the same university.
He has worked as a public official for about three decades. He joined CTRMA in 2003 when it was formed and has participated in its growth into a renowned company in toll road operations. Under his leadership, 183A has been developed. The project uses technology to increase efficiency.
He is a well-known advocate of the development of bicycle and pedestrian facilities. The Mobility Authority is now expanding the 183A toll road at a cost of $1 billion.
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