Mike Heiligenstein Opinion on the Future of Toll roads in Texas

Mike Heiligenstein is the executive director of Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. He was in San Antonio at the Texas Department in January 2014. He was interviewed on the state of the roads in Texas including State Highway 130 and the use of pay arrangements that can improve road conditions in the Eagle Ford Shale. He said that the interstate demand is high and keeps rising. Moving trucks and cars to use the Austin bypass State Highway 130 is not the solution. The solution involves figuring out other innovative ways to add capacity and to change behavior on the roads so that the road can accommodate more cars without getting congested. The neighborhood and cities near Colorado River are reluctant to allow bigger footprints and increase lanes.

 

Another issue is the use of Toll roads to reduce congestion. They experienced poor financial performance because of the weak economy and high gas prices. He stated that Toll roads are not the only answer. They are part of the solution. User revenue funded the last extension of 183A. No tax dollars were used. The previous project offered 300 million dollars. The community investors oversubscribed them more than ten times. The rates that they were getting were excellent and were awarded an uptick in bond rating. The investor community invests if they are satisfied with the results that they can see. San Antonio and Austin is a potential place in terms of investing. The investments at this place are long term and sustainable.

 

The final issue is the use of Toll roads to help ease off the problem of the Eagle Ford Shale. He said that they would introduce Toll tags to charge trucks using the country roads. This will contribute to reduce the trucks using the road because they cannot withstand such weights and demand. The alternative way is creating a zone within which the tax increment financing could be applied to production.

 

Mike Heiligenstein is the executive director of Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. This is a multimodal transportation agency and a company that is determined to reduce congestion and traffic problems using smart and innovation transportation options including the creation of Toll roads to reduce traffic. Mike currently serves on the board of the Texas Transportation Institute and the International Bridge Tunnel and Turnpike Association. Mike holds a Master’s degree in Government and a Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Texas. He worked as a Williamson county commissioner for 15 years.

 

Follow Mike Heiligenstein on Twitter @mheiligenstein.