With many locals noticing the business class clamoring to do business on the Westside, attendance was high for a City of San Antonio Department of Transportation and Capital Improvements (TCI) public meeting where plans for updates to Buena Vista and Cesar E. Chavez Blvd. corridors were unveiled at a pre-construction public meeting held Tuesday, May 21, 2019 at the San Antonio Downtown Market Square Holiday Inn.
COSA Capital Projects Officer Joey Doctor led the meeting with engineering consultants (AECOM), contractor (Jerdon Enterprise) and staff on hand to provide context and answer attendee questions concerning planned improvements on Buena Vista and W. Cesar E. Chavez corridors. Business owners present during the meeting represented several Market Square and Farmer’s Market businesses and area hotels. UTSA Downtown, VIA Metropolitan Transit, Pape-Dawson Engineers and concerned citizens from across the city were also in attendance. Representatives from impacted council districts five (Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales) and one (Councilman Roberto Trevino) also introduced themselves to attendees and provided commentary.
The Buena Vista corridor project, funded by the 2012-2017 Bond (in the amount of $2.5 million), focuses on improved pedestrian connectivity on Buena Vista (between Frio & Santa Rosa) and includes:
New curb, sidewalks and driveway approaches
Widened sidewalks under IH35
Pedestrian lighting on corridor under IH35
HAWK signal at S. Leona St. (officially known as a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon) to allow protected pedestrian crossings, stopping road traffic only as needed
Pedestrian signal upgrade at Buena Vista & S. Pecos-La Trinidad
New Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant wheel chair ramps
Mid-block crossing at Dolorosa & S. Concho St.
New pavement markings
Brick pavers adjacent to Market Square and under IH35
Landscape improvements east of IH35
Tree preservation plan
Construction is scheduled to begin June 17, 2019 and projected to be complete February 2020.
Updates to W. Cesar E. Chavez Blvd., also funded by the 2012-2017 Bond (in the amount of $2.4 million), seeks to improve pedestrian connectivity for Cesar E. Chavez, Blvd. between Urban Loop & IH35 and includes:
New curb, sidewalks andriveway approaches
Pedestrian crosswalk between UTSA & Double Tree Hotel
New pavement markings
New ADA wheelchair ramps
Removal and replacement of brick pavers at Urban Loop median
Pavement widening on Cesar E. Chavez Blvd. between Urban Loop & IH35 with brick paver median width reduced
Painted median striping
Tree preservation plan
Construction is scheduled to start September 2019 and projected to also be completed by February 2020.
Plans also call for aesthetic and lighting enhancements added to both corridors “as appropriate and within available funding.” As both the east and west of Interstate 35 are in the boundaries of Zona Cultural (a recently designated by the State of Texas as a certified Cultural District) many of its concepts will be included in order to “harness the power of cultural resources to stimulate economic development and community revitalization.” As such, style, substance and preservation are goals that maximize culture and minimize environmental impact.
Attendee response included several concerned citizens commenting on the pedestrian crossing in the vicinity of Urban Loop and Cesar Chavez, prompting discussion. A Market Square and Farmer’s Market small business owner asked if there would be a bike built into the plan to help promote access to businesses. Upon request for clarification, COSA Media Relations Specialist Darlene Dorsey explained that “the original scope of this project did not include accommodations for vehicle or bicycle improvements. However, those types of improvements could be considered in the future.”
Citing the recent closure of an ice house located in the area in order to create parking for development, a community member who attended the TCI meeting speaking on condition of anonymity, said that he felt the areas of Buena Vista and Cesar E. Chavez Blvd. to be a “business void” for with the exception of larger, established businesses. He added, “Due to gentrification that has taken place when urbanization came in, the Mom & Pop stores, the molinas where you get your tortillas and the small homes that were there are gone…they’re taking away part of the barrio.” His hope, along with many at the meeting, is that “all market square needs to be represented,” he noted, especially those who speak only Spanish need to be outreached to.
For more information on the Buena Vista and Cesar E. Chavez Blvd. Pre-Construction process and to suggest improvements, please contact COSA at 210-207-8022 or firstname.lastname@example.org.