Transportation Hub Discussed

Residents got to voice their opinions recently at the Avance Inc. offices during a meeting about a proposed West Side multi-modal transportation center just west of downtown.

The area would be a transportation hub for VIA, Greyhound, Amtrak and multiple rental car agencies and would offer a parking garage and other amenities. VIA — along with the city of San Antonio, Austin-San Antonio Intermunicipal Commuter Rail District, the Texas Department of Transportation, the Metropolitan Planning Organization, the San Antonio Mobility Coalition and the Downtown Alliance — organized the April 4 meeting to get feedback from the community and to display plans.

In previous discussions, designers had proposed removing the existing bridges on Buena Vista and Commerce streets that lead to and from the West Side. The streets then would be tunneled under the street-level railroad tracks. But because it would be too costly to remove the bridges, alternate plans were drafted, associates said.

Talks about the proposed transportation center started in the late 1990s, but the initial study for the project was done in 1999, said Priscilla Ingle, VIA’s vice president of public affairs.

“According to the original study done back in 1999, it would have cost an estimated $13.2 million to remove the bridges,” Ingle said. “Of course, the cost would be much higher today due to the price increase of steel and concrete.”

Three additional plans were developed as possible alternatives. The current plans call for the construction of a site between Buena Vista and Commerce streets and just south on Medina Street, in the Cattleman Square area. The railway system would run beneath the West Side bridges, which would not be removed.

The start date for construction on the project will be determined at future meetings, but VIA’s goal for completion is 2012, Ingle said.

Andy Scheidt, VIA’s public information coordinator, said funding sources for the project are unknown, pending a feasibility study slated to be released at the next meeting June 6 at VIA Metro Center, 1021 San Pedro Ave.

“We are still looking for partners to contribute to the project,” he said.

One resident, who opposed the idea of removing the bridges, stood and expressed his objections during the meeting.

“Is that a promise from you that the bridges won’t be taken down?” the man, who did not want to be named, asked the evening’s moderator, Andres Andujar, professional engineer and senior vice president of the design firm 3DI.

“That’s a promise,” Andujar said with a laugh. “We have no funding.”

Many of those in attendance said they hope that the plan will be positive for the city. They agreed that the hub not only will help the area around the center, but it also will attract more visitors to San Antonio while freeing up lanes on already congested highways.

“The hope is that it (the multi-modal center) will help this area to grow,” said Adrian Lopez, economic development manager for the city of San Antonio’s Neighborhood Action Department.

But not everyone was convinced that the hub could revitalize the area.

Jason Mata, president of the Prospect Hill Neighborhood Association, said he is worried about the number of people who will come into the West Side if the proposed terminal is built in that area. He noted that crime in the area is “already bad” and the influx of people could make it worse.

“This is a chaotic situation here,” Mata said. “So many more people will be coming through this area if they build this thing, and they are leaving the issue of safety out of the conversation. They are not worried about the neighborhood aspect, but the business aspect.”

 

“We respect everyone’s opinion on this matter,” Andujar said. “We will take all the recommendations we have received tonight and discuss them at our next meeting.”

 

vlucio@express-news.net

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>