San Antonio set to receive nearly $3 million in funding to address East Side, downtown connectivity

Grant will support conceptual design and planning study around Interstate 37

Hays Street Bridge (Copyright 2020 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio is poised to receive nearly $3 million in funding to begin drafting a study to address connectivity between the East Side and downtown.

The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods program, and it aims to begin improvements to underserved communities affected by transportation infrastructure cutoffs, among other things.

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“While the purpose of transportation is to connect, in too many communities past infrastructure decisions have served instead to divide,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said.

For San Antonio, the federal grant will support funding a conceptual design and planning study to examine physical barriers and social impacts of Interstate 37.

“This study will be the first step to improving walkability, safety, and affordable transportation access for the Eastside community and the broader San Antonio region,” U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar said in a press release.

The program comes by way of the Inflation Reduction Act, which passed in 2022, and President Joe Biden’s Investing in America Agenda. Funding in this round supports 132 projects in various planning stages.

In a September presentation to the city’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Assistant City Manager Lori Houston outlined goals and expectations in utilizing the funding should it be awarded.

With funding now approved, an oversight committee consisting of neighborhood leadership, the District 2 office, community stakeholders and Hemisfair Park’s Area Redevelopment Corporation is expected to form, according to the presentation.

“We’ve identified that we want to develop alternatives to help reconnect downtown and the near East Side by minimizing, or retrofitting that barrier, which is I-37,” Houston said at the committee meeting.

District 2 Councilman Jalen McKee-Rodriguez, at the meeting, expressed interest in the project moving forward.

“The community wants investment, and they want the city to use all avenues ... to secure funding and to show a clear intention to improve the lives of those who live on the East Side,” McKee-Rodriguez said.

The councilman urged caution regarding significant changes that could potentially impact communities, which he said are already experiencing vulnerability and gentrification.

KSAT attempted to contact the District 2 office Wednesday for comment on the funding approval but was told the councilman was out of town.

After working on the public engagement portion of the project, Houston said the city would return to the committee and brief it on applying for construction grants to further support the project.

About the Author

Mason Hickok is a digital journalist at KSAT. He graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a communication degree and a minor in film studies. He also spent two years working at The Paisano, the independent student newspaper at UTSA. Outside of the newsroom, he enjoys the outdoors, reading and watching movies.

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