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When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, San Antonio along with other major cities saw a significant drop in vehicles on the streets and highways.
"The virus had done in a three week time period what generations of planners and decision-makers had never been able to succeed in doing, and that was eliminate traffic congestion,” said Allison Blazosky, AAMPO planning program manager.
The Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization has been keeping track of the monthly number of vehicles on our roads.
“By late March, there was essentially no rush hour anymore which was pretty incredible to see. And we haven’t quite recovered,” said Blazosky.
Blazosky added that in April, San Antonio drivers were on the roads about half the time they were during the same time last year.
“By June, we were back to about three-quarters of what you would see. We dipped again in July,” said Blazosky.
Many people have been able to work from home, but it is not an option for everybody especially in a lot of the industries that make up San Antonio’s economy.
“People who have a food industry job or service industry job or health care job. There are essential people who need a transportation network to get them to work even in the middle of a global pandemic,” said Blazosky.
While the pandemic has taken many vehicles off the roads, Blazosky said it has not stopped major transportation projects in San Antonio that were planned years before the pandemic.
Plans and construction to expand Loop 1604 on the North Side and Interstate 35 North to Austin have not stopped. But some San Antonians have found different ways to get around.
This summer, there was a surge of bicyclists on the trails in the Mission Reach area along the San Antonio River.
“More than 65,000 people used that in May, which is about two times as many that had used it the May before,” said Blazosky.
San Antonio leaders say they are making efforts to become a more equitable city. Transportation is inherently linked to educational, developmental and economic needs.
Any future projects funded by the Alamo Area MPO or other agencies will have that in mind. There are about 10% of households in San Antonio that do not have a car.
“If you want to choose to bike or use a bus, walk or telecommute, you need the infrastructure to make that possible,” said Blazosky. “We’re looking for ways that can connect people to as many to as many destinations and to improve the safety of that connection.”