Cyclists are concerned about a Lower Broadway design that narrows bike lanes along the bustling downtown corridor, but city officials say there aren’t many alternatives.
“There’s just not enough room,” said Art Reinhardt, interim deputy director for San Antonio’s Transportation & Capital Improvements.
The issue stems from the city’s voter-approved 2017 bond package, which includes remaking Broadway into a “complete street” by improving mobility and aesthetics for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists.
Currently, the city is halfway done with designing the first part of the Broadway redevelopment, from Interstate 35 to Houston Street.
However, a strategy pushing protected bike lanes to two parallel roads isn’t sitting well with cyclists who pedal the corridor’s downtown streets.
“We need more than broken promises and white painted lines,” said Bryan Martin, vice president of the advocacy organization Bike San Antonio, on the group’s Facebook page. “Folks, we have the money to build a protected bike lane from Hildebrand (Avenue) to Houston.”
District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño echoed sentiments from city staff and project designers.
“We’re doing our best to offer the options that are available to us,” he said. “We understand their requests and we’re trying to balance all those requests with the constraints that we have.”
Municipal officials and consultants gathered June 27 at Central Catholic High School to update the public on the current Lower Broadway design.
This segment of Broadway, from Houston to I-35, will see roadway reconstruction, curbs, wider sidewalks, driveway approaches, wheelchair ramps, landscaping, on-street parking opportunities, and upgrades to lighting, drainage, traffic signal and utilities.
For some portions, the work will reduce the number of vehicular lanes.
Due to a narrow, existing passageway at certain points, even with all other planned enhancements, some of Lower Broadway can’t accommodate bike lanes safeguarded by raised medians as many cyclists hoped.
The present design involves protected bike lanes, landscaping and new trees, sidewalks and curbs along Avenue B and North Alamo Street from I-35 to Houston.
“We’re planning not just for Broadway, but what’s around Broadway,” Reinhardt said.
Cycling enthusiasts said all of Lower Broadway needs bike lanes wide enough to increase their safety.
Martin has said protected bike lanes would also promote more physical fitness and recreation by linking parks and green spaces citywide.
“We need Mayor Ron Nirenberg to push to fully fund our city’s master bike plan that has been sitting on the shelf since 2011,” he said on Facebook. “When we improve our bus stops and sidewalks, that is the time to add bike lanes on 40 mph streets like Broadway, Fredericksburg Road, St. Mary’s (Street), San Pedro (Avenue), East Houston (etcetera).”
Nirenberg has indicated he’s lobbying for this design to include bike lanes on Lower Broadway. Another local bicyclist, Scott Cogburn, said on the Bike San Antonio Facebook page he’s glad the city is considering upgrading Avenue B and North Alamo as alternate cycling routes.
“If that is done, it will be a win-win for all — cyclists will have a safe, more pleasant route, the project will cost much less, Broadway can have wide sidewalks, there will be less disruption of vehicle traffic,” he said.
Treviño also noted there are different kinds of local pedalers to consider in the downtown plan, from commuters to recreational riders.
The overall design will be finished by January 2020, with construction estimated to end by December 2021.
Work on bike lanes and other upgrades on North Alamo and Avenue B are scheduled for completion in fall 2021.
Sundt Construction is responsible for the design and construction. The company MIG is handling the urban design aspects of the project.
The referendum voters passed in 2017 allotted $42 million for the entire Broadway undertaking, which will also apply similar improvements to two other segments: I-35 to Mulberry Avenue, and Mulberry to Burr Road.
The latter phases of a redeveloped Broadway will have separated-from-traffic bike lanes, according to TCI.
In addition to the $42 million in city bond funds, the total $97 million complete street project has secured $14 million from the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Texas Department of Transportation.
Yet to be identified is money for the final phase of redevelopment, from Burr to Mulberry, but officials have said revenue sources could include the local tax increment reinvestment zone and the city budget.
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