Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority
|Authority executive||Mike Heiligenstein, Executive Director|
The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority is an independent government agency created in 2002 to improve the transportation system in Travis and Williamson Counties in Texas. Their mission is to implement innovative, multi-modal transportation solutions that reduce congestion and create transportation choices that enhance quality of life and economic vitality. The Mobility Authority is headquartered at 3300 N. IH 35 Avenue in Austin.
The Mobility Authority is overseen by a seven-member Board of Directors. The Governor appoints the Chairman, and the Travis and Williamson Counties Commissioners Courts each appoint three members to serve on the Board.
The Mobility Authority employs a small professional staff of 17 led by Executive Director Mike Heiligenstein. The Mobility Authority uses private sector contractors with specialized expertise to provide staffing support for individual projects.
The Mobility Authority was created and operates under the Texas Transportation Code Chapter 370 and is authorized under state law to implement a wide range of transportation systems including roadways, airports, seaports and transit services. The Mobility Authority is authorized to issue revenue bonds to fund projects and can utilize user fees and/or taxes to fund operations and repay bonds.
CTRMA's first project was183A, an 11.6 mile (18.7 km) toll road in southwest Williamson County. Construction of the US$238 million toll road began in March 2005 and was opened to traffic in March 2007. The road is intended to serve the fast-growing suburban communities of Cedar Park and Leander. 183A features a state-of-the art electronic toll collection system known as TxTag implemented by Caseta Technologies, Inc.
CTRMA is currently developing the "Mopac Improvement Project" Here is an excerpt from the website: "The MoPac Improvement Project is a combined effort by the Mobility Authority, TxDOT, the City of Austin, Capital Metro and other local experts to address traffic congestion on MoPac. The effort includes an environmental study by TxDOT and the Mobility Authority to evaluate a full range of alternatives and identify a preferred solution. Thorough studies will be conducted and the community will be invited to review the various alternatives in detail and provide feedback before any final decisions are made." One of the proposed methods to deal with the issue are "managed lanes" or toll lanes on the highway. CTRMA states "If Express Lanes are added to MoPac, they would be separate travel lanes that would offer improved mobility on one of Austins most important arteries. Express Lanes, sometimes referred to as "managed lanes," allow buses, registered vanpools and emergency vehicles to bypass congestion and get to their destinations without delay. Any extra capacity in the lanes would be made available to individual drivers who have the option to pay a toll if they choose to use the lanes. To keep traffic in the lanes free-flowing, the toll rate would rise when traffic is heavy and go down when traffic is light. The value to users would be the predictability and reliability of travel times throughout the day."
According to the 2012 Financial Audit, the Mobility Authority’s main sources of revenue are tolls ($23.6 million) and federal and state highway funds ($28.4 million). Total operating expenses total $17 million. The organization pays some $12 million annually to service a debt of $681 million.
In late 2012, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization decided to place $130 million in available state and federal funds with the Mobility Authority, which plans to use the money for the MoPac Project approved by the Federal Highway Administration. The Mobility Authority will place $230 million into a fund available to CAMPO for transportation projects over a set timeframe, effectively leveraging the available funds to develop future funding through the construction of a partially tolled roadway.
The Mobility Authority is an independent government agency with a seven member Board of Directors. The Chairman of the Board is appointed by the Governor of Texas. The Travis County Commissioner's Court appoints three members and the Williamson County Commissioner's Court appoints three. The Board Members serve two year terms and can be reappointed. The Mobility Authority is run by Executive Director Mike Heiligenstein and a staff of approximately a dozen individuals.
There has been controversy in Texas over foreign and private ownership of roadways, but all of the Mobility Authority’s properties are owned and operated by the organization, which is a public, nonprofit entity. The Mobility Authority is governed by a Board of Directors composed of a chair selected by the governor, three appointed by the Travis County Commissioners Court and three selected by the Williamson County Commissioners Court. The Board members serve two-year terms and are not compensated for their service.