On May 17, officials from throughout Central Texas kicked off the development of the CAMPO 2040 Regional Transportation Plan, which will help guide the next 25 years of transportation improvements in Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties.
Will Conley, the chairman of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO), described the Regional Mobility Summit as an important part of the planning process for the organization's 2040 Plan. The event included small group discussions, surveys and panels consisting of Austin officials and business leaders.
Attendees were asked to break into small groups and name the most pressing near-term and long-term transportation issues affecting them, as well as possible solutions to those challenges.
"[The group discussions] will be a starting point of two years of collecting information and going out and talking to stakeholders and developing consensus amongst all the board members of the metropolitan planning organization," Conley said.
Attendees' most frequently voiced concerns were securing funding for road projects, lessening congestion on roads and utilizing multi-modal approaches to transportation, which would include elements such as commuter rail, buses, bike lanes and other options.
Ryan Robinson, city demographer for the City of Austin, said Austin's population grew 69 percent to 790,390 between 2000 and 2010, and the Austin Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) could have a population of as many as 5.5 million by 2050.
"The latest information available from the Census Bureau ranks Austin, for the second year in a row, as the fastest-growing large MSA in the country," Robinson said.
The city's growth has necessitated discussions about congestion and the density of development.
John Trube, former mayor of Buda and a partner with Johnson, Trube and Associates, an Austin-based business-consulting firm, said Central Texas residents should look to public transit options such as buses to get more cars off roads.
"I used to be afraid of urban sprawl," Trube said. "Now I'm afraid of urban crawl."
Before those options can be fully utilized, Trube said, Central Texans need to change their attitudes about public transit.
"When did we all decide the bus was such a bad thing?" Trube said.
Conley said one of the crucial elements of the years-long process will be to get public input through multiple meetings in each of the six counties served by CAMPO.
"The reality is, most people don't know how we get from Point A to Point B," Conley said. "More importantly, they don't know how we work together to do that."