SAN ANTONIO – The upcoming 2022 bond program is expected to include a chunk of money to keep expanding the Howard W. Peak Greenway Trails System, but whether it will be enough to finish off the long-awaited loop around the city is yet to be seen.
Snaking around San Antonio, the greenway trail system is a popular destination for runners and bikers looking to track long miles far away from busy roads. The city has completed 84 miles of trails so far to the tune of $143 million, but it’s still many miles away from finishing the original “ring” of creekway trails around the city that former mayor Howard Peak had imagined.
And with voters deciding last year to divert the 1/8 sales tax that has traditionally funded the trail system’s expansion, new funding sources have had to be worked out.
City Manager Erik Walsh told City Council members during a Sep. 29 briefing that Bexar County has agreed to take on the development of 24.6 miles of trails over the next 10 years, and has approved $83.5 million toward that purpose. That still leaves 45.4 miles, Walsh said, which would cost an estimated $200 million.
The $1.2 billion 2022 bond program is a likely funding source for at least part of the remaining trail work. To keep pace with the trail development that has been going on, Walsh told council members the city would need to allocate at least $100 million of that money toward trails.
Linear Creekway Parks Advisory Board Chairman Greg Hammer said that to his understanding, those 70 miles would finish off the original vision of the trailway loop, as well as some tributaries. However, he doesn’t see that as the end of the project.
“The more we build, the more opportunities for connections that we identify and the more neighborhoods we can connect in, the more people we give an opportunity to utilize the system. And then it becomes more viable as an alternative transportation resource rather than just recreation,” Hammer said.
Walsh also told council members that the group Activate SA has spend “an inordinate amount of time” identifying streets and right-of-ways that could connect into the trail system in a hub and spoke format. That would cost an additional $90 million, Walsh said, but about $45 million worth of the projects run along some of the city’s failed streets and could be taken up as part of the city’s efforts to fix those.
Despite the bond program’s record size, there’s no guarantee city staff, and eventually community committees and voters, will include all $245 million worth of funding in the final list of projects.
City staff say the project requests for the bond program total $2.8 billion - more than double the capacity for the bond program. They originated from council members, staff, community partners, public agencies, and the public.
The city’s total infrastructure need, not including any housing projects, is even larger - more than five times the bond program’s size at $6.6 billion.
City staff will present their recommendations for bond projects to council at 2 p.m. Wednesday.
Also on KSAT.com: