SAN ANTONIO – Road funding and public transportation topped Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff’s list of challenges in his State of the County address on Wednesday.
“There are not enough resources for highways and roads to meet the demand of our increasing population,” Wolff said.
Speaking at the Omni Hotel, the judge laid out nine challenges, he said, the county is facing, ranging from the staying on top of the opioid crisis to creating a state-of-the-art women and children’s hospital to developing a “humanistic” magistration, intake and assessment center. Getting more money out of the Legislature and public transit reforms were his first concerns.
Wolff said current projections show only $7 billion in revenue for transportation funding in the region over the next 25 years, falling far short of the $20 billion needed. While Wolff said the county and community must keep up pressure on the state to shell out more money for road infrastructure, the county can’t count on that happening.
“If they don't,” he said, following our public transportation has to be even better.
Wolff also warned that, in any case, the county can’t build its way out of coming traffic and congestion problems. Public transportation has to be developed, too.
He said he agreed with San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg about skipping over light rail for a trackless transit system. Wolff also spoke of a “Micro Transit System,” using vehicles such as SUVs and small shuttle buses.
Some challenges had already had some success, such as the restoration of San Pedro Creek, the first phase of which was just finished.
“It includes public art projects that tell the story of our creek and our heritage, and is transforming the creek into a world-class linear park,” Wolff said.
Meanwhile, staying on top of the opioid crisis has already included the county filing a lawsuit against drug manufacturers and distributors. Any proceeds, Wolff said, will fund a comprehensive prevention and treatment program.
The judge also announced the county had partnered with the North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce to assist with its Military Transition Center. The chamber will help identify specific businesses with job openings for veterans, based on their skill sets.
While he acknowledged the county faces more problems than the ones he presented, Wolff said, “If we will put our shoulders together and we will continue to push this community forward and address the major issues that are facing us, we are going to build a world-class city.”