AAMPO Geographic Information Systems Manager Cecilio Martinez (center) shows participants how to give feedback on updates to the Transportation Improvement Program. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

It was a sparse turnout at the VIA Metropolitan Transit Center on Thursday during an open house for future transportation projects across the San Antonio region.

Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (AAMPO) is holding open houses this and next week in four counties where the proposed projects are located. 

The planning organization is soliciting feedback on updates to the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for the fiscal years 2021-2024, which outlines AAMPO’s short-range transportation plan for Bexar, Comal, Guadalupe and Kendall counties. The TIP program is one of four major comprehensive documents the planning organization develops toward long-range transportation planning. 

AAMPO must submit the fiscal year 2021-2024 TIP to the Texas Department of Transportation in May 2020.

Eligible TIP projects run the gamut from additional lanes and safety and air quality improvement measures to bike lanes, pedestrian facilities, and transit passenger facilities.

The AAMPO also is welcoming input on current road-related safety and traffic congestion issues, as well as potential projects that could be included in the next TIP program, which will cover fiscal years 2023-2026. 

A call for projects for that mid-decade program begins next October. 

“We take information and feedback and send it to our partner agencies,” AAMPO Deputy Director Jeanne Geiger said. “It’s a matter of sending it to the different agencies and hoping they find projects based on your input that they can submit.”

The first open house, which encouraged participants to come and go at their leisure, was held Wednesday in Boerne for Kendall County residents. A handful of Bexar County residents showed up at the second open house Thursday. 

Eric Brown, a Houston native who lives in the Medical Center area, said as San Antonio continues to spread out, the city has managed its traffic congestion better than most other major Southwestern cities. 

“But eventually, infrastructure will get old and you have to fix it,” Brown added.

Brown also said rapid mass transit, such as light rail, has the potential to have a positive impact as long as planners implement such a system in a cost-effective way.

“I do see the benefit of having fixed transit routes that can service a lot of our capacity,” Brown added.

Other attendees lamented about TxDOT’s plan to expand 1604 from West Military Drive to Braun Road from four to six lanes that won’t occur for more than a decade from now while others complained about the lack of protected bike lanes on Broadway south of the U.S. 281/Interstate 35 junction.

Several people pointed out narrow sidewalks, sidewalk gaps or no sidewalks at all in places such as Olmos Basin Park, Broadway/Austin Highway, Hildebrand Avenue, San Pedro Avenue, and major freeway intersections such as 281 and 1604 and 1604 and Interstate 10.

Transportation feedback is made on a map of San Antonio.

For future concerns, the AAMPO website has a page where visitors can offer opinions on more than 100 identified projects. A checkup on that page on Thursday night did not show much feedback.

During the in-person feedback sessions, attendees are able to visit different tables where event staffers guide them in providing thoughts on traffic congestion, traffic safety, bicycle/pedestrian matters, and public transportation. 

They can use iPads on-site to map out a geographic location to detail a problem for that area or a potential solution.

Those unable to attend an open house can provide their feedback on the AAMPO’s website. 

AAMPO will hold open houses Oct. 2 at the Seguin Public Library, and Oct. 3 at the New Braunfels Civic Center. Each meeting starts at 6 p.m. 
Online public participation closes Oct. 3.

Edmond Ortiz, a lifelong San Antonian, is a freelance reporter/editor who has worked with the San Antonio Express-News and Prime Time Newspapers.