Head of Central Texas tolling agency resigning after 16 years of leadership

Mike Heiligenstein (left) takes the last vehicular trip on the Montopolis Bridge in East Austin in October 2018. Heiligenstein is stepping down from executive director of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, which closed the historic bridge as part of its US 183 South toll project. The bridge is being refurbished and will be used by bicyclists and pedestrians when it reopens. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)
Mike Heiligenstein (left) takes the last vehicular trip on the Montopolis Bridge in East Austin in October 2018. Heiligenstein is stepping down from executive director of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, which closed the historic bridge as part of its US 183 South toll project. The bridge is being refurbished and will be used by bicyclists and pedestrians when it reopens. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)

Mike Heiligenstein (left) takes the last vehicular trip on the Montopolis Bridge in East Austin in October 2018. Heiligenstein is stepping down from executive director of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, which closed the historic bridge as part of its US 183 South toll project. The bridge is being refurbished and will be used by bicyclists and pedestrians when it reopens. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)

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The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority board met Jan. 29, the day that Mike Heiligenstein (fourth from left) announced his resignation as executive director. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)
After 16 years of overseeing projects such as the MoPac express lanes and Toll 183A, the executive director of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority announced Jan. 29 he is stepping down.

In 2002, the Texas Legislature created the agency to develop regional transportation options. Mike Heiligenstein was named the executive director the following year when the agency became operational. He said in a news release that the job has been his most rewarding.

“I’m humbled to have served beside our board and staff, and I have never been more confident that the Mobility Authority is poised for incredible growth and continued success,” he said in a statement. “As I close this chapter of my life, I look forward to applying the experience I’ve gained here and the best practices I’ve learned to successfully deliver major infrastructure projects, which could benefit many other organizations across the state and country.”

Heiligenstein plans to remain in his role until the agency transitions to a new leader.

“Mike's commitment to improving mobility and air quality will long be felt in the region,” said state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, in the news release. “Involved in the Mobility Authority since its inception, he has been integral to shaping the organization and its commitment to effective community engagement that helps create projects the community not only wants but can be proud of. Mike has embraced our community values—from leading edge environmental standards to the inclusion of bike and pedestrian paths along the roads—and he ensured they have been integrated in each project the agency has delivered.”


The Mobility Authority oversees toll projects such as Toll 183A in Cedar Park and Leander, Toll 290 in East Austin, the MoPac express lanes in Austin, and SH 45 SW in South Austin and northern Hays County. Most projects have also included bicycle and pedestrian improvements, such as trails and sidewalks. The agency has built more than 230 lane miles under Heiligenstein’s leadership and is planning another 155 lane miles.

The Mobility Authority’s board of directors selects the executive director. The governor names the board chair, and the Travis and Williamson county commissioner courts each select three members to sit on the board.

Leadership on the agency’s board has changed in recent years, with the most recent change in August when Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Bobby Jenkins as the board chair.

“Mike has been the absolute driving force behind the success of the Mobility Authority for more than 15 years,” Jenkins said in the statement. “His vision, knowledge and leadership have made the Mobility Authority an incredibly valuable organization that has made a significant impact in dealing with traffic congestion in Central Texas. We are all extremely grateful for Mike's dedication and passion in leading the Mobility Authority and we wish him well as he enters retirement.”

Prior to leading the Mobility Authority, Heiligenstein served in Williamson County as county commissioner in Precinct 1. He also served on Round Rock City Council, including as mayor pro tem, according to the Mobility Authority website.
By Amy Denney

Managing Editor, Austin metro

Amy has worked for Community Impact Newspaper since September 2010, serving as reporter and senior editor for the Northwest Austin edition as well as covering transportation in the Austin metro. She is now managing editor for the 10 publications in the Central Texas area from Georgetown to New Braunfels. She enjoys spending time with her husband, son and two cats.