Alamo Heights voters will finish choosing on Election Day whether to approve a more than $13 million bond that would pave the way for a redevelopment of the city’s main thoroughfare.

The bond would partly fund a nearly $32 million redesign of slightly more than a mile of Broadway from its intersection with Austin Highway south to Burr Road. The stretch of road has long been an epicenter of flooding, Alamo Heights City Manager Buddy Kuhn said in an August video explaining the project. It also has aging utility lines and deteriorating sidewalks, curbs, and drainage inlets.

In the presentation, Kuhn showed photos of a flooded Alamo Heights from October 1998, when a storm dumped more than 15 inches of rain on the downtown area.

“As you can see, there is nearly Class III whitewater running down Patterson Avenue,” Kuhn said.

Kuhn’s presentation also included video shot during 2018 by a person trapped by floodwaters outside a business on Broadway between Austin Highway and Arcadia Place. Alamo Heights Fire Department rescued nine people from the rushing water.

To address these issues, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (AAMPO), and the San Antonio River Authority have proposed $31.6 million in upgrades, with $14 million in state and federal funding set aside for the project. After completion, TxDOT will transfer ownership of Broadway to the City of Alamo Heights, Kuhn said.

In exchange for providing its share of the funding, AAMPO officials required that designs for a redeveloped Broadway in Alamo Heights match those planned for the lower Broadway corridor in San Antonio, Kuhn said.

That means reducing the number of lanes from six to four, creating a center median with turn lanes, funded entirely by TxDOT and AAMPO. Authorities also would add bike lanes and create 7- to 10-foot-wide sidewalks. The area currently has 5-foot-wide sidewalks and many stretches with no sidewalk.

The San Antonio River Authority will provide another $1.3 million for low-impact landscaping features, such as rain gardens and biofilters meant to capture and filter runoff.

Much of the City of Alamo Heights’ responsibility lies underground. Most of the $13 million would go to adding new box culverts and other drainage features; a portion also would go to road improvements. City officials say the drainage improvements will remove 29 acres adjacent to Broadway from the 25-year floodplain, which is land with a 4 percent chance of flooding every year.

Alamo Heights officials say the debt will come in the form of 25-year bonds with an assumed 3.13 percent interest rate. A proposed property tax increase from 5 cents to 7 cents per $100 of assessed valuation would cover the debt payments.

Financing for water and sewer upgrades will come from a $2.1 million debt, with service paid via previously approved water and sewer rate increases. The City also will contribute to irrigation and electrical systems needed for the new landscaping.

Brendan Gibbons

Brendan Gibbons is the San Antonio Report's environment and energy reporter.