May 2, 2023 - Climate

Hot San Antonio streets could get cooler pavement

Illustration of a sidewalk chalk drawing of a thermometer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

San Antonio summers are hot, but a new type of asphalt making its way into neighborhoods may help turn down the heat.

Driving the news: The city last week began installing "cool pavement," a water-based asphalt treatment, in each City Council district. Installation continues this week and next in portions of each area.

How it works: The asphalt can reflect more sunlight and therefore absorbs less heat, leading to reduced temperature spikes.

Why it matters: Areas with more pavement and fewer trees experience what's called an urban heat island effect, leading cities to be hotter than surrounding rural communities. Neighborhoods with lower-income residents are likely to be even hotter, per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, leading to greater health risks and poor air quality.

Details: This week's cool pavement installation includes:

  • Rebeccas Trail and Mountain Star from Stephens Ranch to Wolf Point in District 4.
  • Southwest 21st Street from Saltillo Road to South Laredo Street in District 5.
  • See other project information near you online.

Flashback: The city first tested the asphalt near the Hays Street Bridge on the East Side in 2021.

  • It costs more than typical street coating but can last longer, per the city.

By the numbers: The initial installations, part of a pilot program, will cost about $1 million, per a city news release. It's funded through the city's dedicated climate action fund, new in this year's budget.

What's next: The city will work with the University of Texas at San Antonio to study the cool pavement locations for six months to see how it affects temperatures and test its sustainability.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios San Antonio.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More San Antonio stories

No stories could be found

San Antoniopostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios San Antonio.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more