SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio city leader wants to create a clear and consistent understanding of how much power city leaders have to change voter-approved bonds now and in the future.
District 1 Councilman Roberto Trevino filed a Council Consideration Request for a complete review of the role that the mayor and City Council members have in modifying voter-approved bond projects to ensure the packages are appropriately implemented by city staff.
“When we plan a project out and it goes on the ballot and it's voter-approved, then we stick to that, and we make sure that what we're doing is what we say we're going to do,” Trevino said.
The request comes following a Transportation and Mobility Committee meeting in which possible modifications to the 2017 bond involving the Broadway corridor were discussed.
The original approved plan, worth about $42 million, involves reconstruction of the Broadway corridor between Hildebrand Avenue and Houston Street. The lower portion of the project from the I-35 area to Houston Street does not include protected bicycle lanes, but the northern part, or about two-thirds of the project, would include them.
The project, according to the city’s website, includes the following: “Curbs, sidewalks, driveway approaches, bicycle amenities, lighting, drainage and traffic improvements as appropriate and within available funds. City funding will leverage state and federal funding.”
An alternative proposal has been introduced to reroute bicycles from Broadway to a protected route along Avenue B and North Alamo Street. That plan was not part of the 2017 bond, and funding for that proposal is still being determined. But some want to keep a protected bicycle lane along Broadway. City engineers say that proposal does not fit a portion of Broadway because the road is too narrow and cannot support a separate bike lane.
City staff members are conducting a traffic study to possibly make changes, but that may come at the expense of vehicle lanes and narrow sidewalks. They said the city had plenty of opportunities before the bond was approved to make its requests.
Bike San Antonio is one of several groups pushing to keep the bicycle lanes on Broadway, and about 1,000 people have signed a petition.
Trevino said his request for a review is not just about the Broadway corridor, it’s about protecting the public’s trust and future bonds.
“I think we're setting a bad precedent by changing any project that is at 40% design completion at this stage of the game,” Trevino said. “The design professionals are saying that the option to move the bike lanes over to Avenue B is the best option to make sure that we have everything we have wanted for this corridor.”
Cyclist Efren Rodriguez understands why protected lanes are of importance to some on Broadway, but he’s not opposed to a compromise by rerouting cyclists to Avenue B. He said he agrees that making big changes to a bond once it’s approved raises eyebrows,
“Although it may differ from where it started out, but it stays within the same realm, I think that should be OK,” Rodriguez said.