SAN ANTONIO – Roger Caballero can’t leave work at the Madonna Center without looking at what’s left of the Pedro Romero Pedestrian Bridge on Castroville Road.
“The top of the bridge was right there,” Caballero said. “I thank God nobody was out there because it would have been a huge tragedy.”
The two ramps leading up to the pedestrian bridge are still standing seven months after a dump truck crashed into the bridge. It happened the morning of Feb. 21 when the truck driver failed to lower the open-box bed.
Now, months later, as the city looks to find a replacement for the bridge, the Westwood Square community is calling for something new.
“We are in favor of the remainder of the bridge being removed as soon as possible, in order to mitigate travel restrictions for our handicapped population and traffic,” a letter to the city reads, signed by 15 neighbors in Westwood Square.
Caballero, the executive director of the Madonna Center, was one of those neighbors.
“The street remains very dangerous to cross, and there’s no question about that,” Caballero said. “But the need for children to cross the street on their own is not there as it used to be.”
The bridge stood for decades over the 1900 block of Castroville Road, near the intersection with Dahlgreen Avenue. It was dedicated to West Side resident Pedro Romero in 1978.
Romero petitioned and asked the city to build the bridge to keep kids safe from crossing the busy road to get to school.
Back in late February, his granddaughter, Rosemary Mancera, said her family was in contact with City Councilwoman Teri Castillo to get the bridge rebuilt. But simultaneously, neighbors across Westwood Square were calling on the city to replace it with a ground-level crosswalk.
“The bridge wasn’t in use,” said Andrew Arredondo, the manager at Tacos El Rey. “It wasn’t practical.”
Arredondo said the bridge was too steep for older adults and children to climb safely. He said it was rarely used in the past couple of years.
“People would rather use the crosswalk than use the bridge,” Arredondo said.
Arredondo and his family, who own Tacos El Rey, said they were there the morning of the crash. Surveillance video from outside their restaurant shows the dump truck colliding with the bridge.
“We just heard a boom,” Arredondo said. “I immediately grabbed my camera and rushed outside and recorded the aftermath to see.”
Following the crash, city crews removed what fell off the pedestrian overpass and blocked off the two ramps that used to connect it. Months later, in October, those ramps still stand.
“We are in favor of the remainder of the bridge being removed as soon as possible, in order to mitigate travel restrictions for our handicapped population and traffic,” the letter signed by neighbors reads.
In March, however, the city worked to install a short-term solution to temporarily replace the bridge at the same intersection on Castroville Road. The city set up a temporary crosswalk. But Caballero said it’s not permanent enough.
“Drivers don’t really see it as a stoplight,” Caballero said. “It’s been effective, but it’s dangerous.”
That’s part of the reason neighbors have been working with the city to get a permanent crosswalk.
Public Works sent KSAT the following statement regarding the future of this intersection:
“The city has received input from the community in support of alternatives to rebuilding the pedestrian bridge on Castroville Road. We are in the process of designing a traffic signal to be constructed at the same location as the pedestrian bridge starting in 2024.”
Caballero said he’s excited to see what comes next for this intersection on Castroville.
“The street remains very dangerous to cross,” Caballero said. “There’s no question about that.”
A traffic report from the San Antonio Police Department shows that four crashes occurred at that intersection from Jan. 1, 2023, to June 30, 2023. Across all of 2022, there were four crashes; across 2021, there were five. Most of these incidents come down to drive inattention or failing to yield to the right of way.
These are the crashes on Castroville Road between Dahlgreen Avenue and Athel Avenue:
|Year/date||Crashes||Possible injury||Suspected minor injury||Fatalities|
|Jan. 1-June 30, 2023||4||0||0||0|
The city said until construction can begin, the temporary crossing signal will remain in place.