CTRMA (Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority) is in the process of building up to three connector bridges at 290 Toll Road and 130 (TxDOT’s toll road) intersections. The added infrastructure is one of the agency’s strategies to meet the increased demand of traveling drivers and to provide safe connection between the two roads. Mike Heiligenstein, CTRMA’s Executive Director regularly attends panel discussions to discuss the future of transportation needs and it’s challenges. In January 2014, he was interviewed by Business Journals and elaborated on SH (State Highway) 130 and two consecutive decreased toll roads’ credit ratings by Moody.
The first question Business Journals asked Mike Heiligenstein is why drivers weren’t using 130 which connects near San Antonio, and its low revenue, in 2013. He responded saying local and regional traffic is 85 percent traveling from San Antonio to Austin, which isn’t through traffic. Heiligenstein explained that there are other solutions beside moving vehicles, such as, changing traffic behavior and adding capacity. For as the low financial performance and credit ratings of the toll roads, including SH 130, he said is caused by a weak economy and higher prices for gas. Mike ended the interview providing solutions for toll roads to reduce the conditions of roads and to resolve deterioration problems, in Eagle Ford Shale.
One solution is to start charging trucks traveling on country roads by setting up a toll tag system. Mike Heiligenstein recommended another solution to create a type of zone, in which, production is applied to a tax increment financing instrument. At the time, Texas Department of Commerce was obtaining access to funding for counties that didn’t have the financial resources to do it on their own. Since 290 Toll Road was opened, in 2014 to present, drivers have increased drastically, causing traffic congestion on toll roads, 290 and 130. The direct connector bridges to both facilities will relieve traffic stress by giving drivers a connection that flows freely and make capacity on the frontage road intersection.
CTRMA was formed as an independent governmental agency, in 2002, with the mission of improving the transportation system, in Travis and Williamson counties. On year later, the agency elected Mike Heiligenstein to serve as Executive Director to run day-to-day operations and lead the agency’s team. The connector bridges project is only one of various projects CTRMA is in the process of working on to improve transportation in Austin and nearby areas.
Follow Mike Heiligenstein on twitter @mheiligenstein.