SAN ANTONIO – The easy part for the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization was announcing it had $300 million in federal funding to hand out for various projects across the region. The hard part for the staff was narrowing the list down, so inevitably, some projects were left off the list.
For the City of San Antonio, that means the $27 million project to reconstruct a section of Culebra Road from I-10 to Callaghan Road. The city recently collected more public input about improving the corridor.
“It can be safer, really … safer for our cyclists, safer for pedestrians, safer for our cars, so I wanted to know what that criteria was that we didn’t make the grade,” said Councilwoman Melissa Cabello Harvda, who represents San Antonio’s District 6.
Cabello Harvda is the current vice-chair and will be next chair of the Alamo Area MPO’s Transportation Policy Board. She was among the city officials who questioned MPO staff members Tuesday during a meeting of the MPO’s Executive Committee.
Staff members said the city had ranked the Culebra Road project fourth in its list of priorities to be funded. They also said it wasn’t as far along as other projects seeking funding, especially considering its cost.
“We do these calls every two years, and so I think that in two years, if it’s resubmitted, at that point, hopefully, there will be a lot more work that will be done on it, and I think it would actually compete very well,” said Sid Martinez, executive director of the Alamo Area MPO. “It was just from that project readiness standpoint today, I don’t think it was ready to go compared to other projects that were submitted.”
Staff had earlier narrowed down the list of submitted projects to 68 before getting public input. Those proposals had a total cost of more than $670 million. In the end, just more than half of the projects were able to receive funding.
The projects were scored on criteria such as potential to reduce congestion or emissions and improve safety, as well as project readiness.
In the end, Cabello Harvda and the other members of the committee voted to move the plan along to the full Transportation Policy Board.
“I’m going to continue to do my own research and have my own conversations about why that didn’t work out,” she said. “We eventually voted for the plan because it’s a solid plan.”
Projects recommended for inclusion included the conversion of some older VIA buses from diesel to CNG, or compressed natural gas. The city’s top priority, improvements to Enrique Barrera Parkway (Old Highway 90), was also included. Other cities like New Braunfels and Seguin will also see money for projects.
The list now goes before the full Transportation Policy Board, which will next meet on Aug. 23.
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