Austin at the Center of International Mobility Innovation

IBTTA Comes to Austin

U.S. Deputy Transportation Secretary Victor Mendez

U.S. Deputy Transportation Secretary Victor Mendez

The International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) held its 82nd Annual Meeting & Exhibition in Austin in September. As host of the conference – and president of IBTTA for the last year – I was proud to showcase Austin and the Mobility Authority to a worldwide audience.

Overall, people were very pleased with the general nature of the Austin conference, in terms of the receptivity that the Austin community now provides a conference of this nature. The panels that dealt with the Texas Tolling Experiment were very important.

The Technology conference was an excellent one featuring a dynamic group of speakers who all connected with the audience. The presence of Governor Rick Perry and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation Victor Mendez created a sense that something important was happening at this conference, that this wasn’t a typical conference. That was followed by panels that were just off-the-charts brilliant. At the end of the day we had a very good conference across the board, and I think a lot of people worked very hard to make that happen.


Governor Rick Perry at IBTTA

Governor Rick Perry at IBTTA

How IBTTA Helps Texas

The conference really focused a light on some of the congestion issues that we have and put a framework around it. The options we’re seeing from around the world and all over the country, came to play here. We had one of the IBTTA members, who is next year’s president, actually go and testify on a Texas Senate panel on Sep. 16. Because he was from outside of Texas, from Florida, he helped add a new perspective to our legislators. Those Texans up on that stage in that first toll experiment lab, from legislators to representatives of San Antonio, looked out at a crowd of almost 1,000 people thinking, ‘Wow, we’re not in this alone. There are a lot of really smart people trying to figure out solutions.’ I think that’s what comes back to Austin.

Mobility Authority takes lessons from Austin to the world

After the annual convention in Austin, IBTTA’s next meeting was a global summit on innovations & technology for sustainable mobility in Prague, Czech Republic. Ideas from the world over were presented. I was pleased to participate in this exchange of ideas and provided an overview on customers and collaboration. Here are a few highlights I thought you might find of interest, for example:

Customers expect from their toll road:

• Reliability

• Safety

• Connectivity

• Stress-free experience

• Fair pricing

To no surprise to anyone from my home state, Texans really love their cars, nine out of ten own or lease a vehicle. Three out of four are feeling the pain of congestion, and 40 percent believe the cost of goods is affected by congestion. And if that is not compelling enough, congestion in Texas is to blame for a $10 billion annual loss in time and wasted fuel.

So how do we address this congestion? We asked a sample of Texas commuters to rank a list of transportation improvement options. Better traffic signal timing and clearing accidents more quickly where rated highest. With regard to tolling, results showed that over 73% of Texans are pleased with the value they receive for tolls paid and this HNTB America THINKS survey found that 79% of Americans support tolls to fund transportation needs\

To view my full presentation:

Mobility Authority Executive Director and 2014 IBTTA President Mike Heiligenstein

Mobility Authority Executive Director and 2014 IBTTA President Mike Heiligenstein

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