Plans for Broadway corridor's future in San Antonio still fuzzy
As the state prepares to begin construction on Broadway between Pearl and Alamo Heights, it's unclear what improvements the Texas Department of Transportation will make.
Driving the news: TxDOT is set to begin work on upper Broadway on Sept. 4, spokesperson Laura Lopez tells Axios.
- But city officials still haven't seen the state's plans for the project.
Why it matters: The city cannot move forward with its voter-approved plans to add pedestrian and urban amenities to Broadway. That leaves $82.5 million in limbo after city officials said they don't have plans to reprogram the funds to other street projects.
- The roughly 2-mile Broadway corridor is dotted with museums and local businesses. The high-traffic road is frequented by residents enjoying leisure activities as well as traveling through.
Catch up fast: The city's original plans for Broadway included widened sidewalks, protected bike lanes, updated landscaping and reduced lanes.
- San Antonio voters approved of the city's urban vision for Broadway as part of the 2017 bond program, passing it with 78% support.
- But in January 2022, the Texas Transportation Commission took control of Broadway.
- The planned lane reductions were central to the state's decision to take control of the project, the Express-News reported, because such a change would conflict with Gov. Greg Abbott's directive to reduce traffic congestion.
Context: City public works director Razi Hosseini told the San Antonio Report that the city is putting the money toward other projects.
- Mayor Ron Nirenberg and city manager Erik Walsh contradicted those comments in statements to the Express-News days later, saying there are no plans to reallocate the funds, and they are waiting on plans from the state.
What they're saying: "TxDOT has spoken of designs that align with all of our goals and interests, but we have yet to see such a proposal," Nirenberg said in a statement to Axios. "I look forward to seeing those renderings and remain hopeful that we can do right by the San Antonio community."
- "The City remains hopeful that TxDOT will present plans to the City and the community that align with the original intent," Walsh said in a statement to Axios. "In the meantime, there are no plans to reallocate funds."
State of play: Broadway improvements were popular and central to the city's 2017 bond program, Christian Archer, campaign manager for the OneSA 2017 bond campaign, tells Axios.
- "It was one of the major selling points of the bond," Archer says.
- The project also had support from business owners along Broadway, Archer says.
Zoom in: It makes sense that Nirenberg and Walsh would continue to push for plans that amassed such public support, Archer tells Axios.
Meanwhile, the city is working on improvements to a downtown stretch of lower Broadway it owns. The project will widen sidewalks, add pedestrian lighting and landscaping and upgrade utilities. It should be finished next summer, a city spokesperson tells Axios.
The bottom line: "It's still just this gigantic question mark about one of the major arterial roadways going into downtown," Archer says.
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