A deteriorating sidewalk on the East Side. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

A seven-member sidewalk repair crew dubbed the “sidewalk squad” will repair nearly two collective miles of deteriorating sidewalk gaps next year as part of the City’s 2020 proposed $2.9 billion budget.

The program, which will cost $506,000, is part of the City’s Transporation and Capital Improvements (TCI) $729.8 million operating and capital budget for next year. Residents can report eligible sidewalks through the 311 City services app.

Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1) said the plan is a good start, but he’d like to see more money dedicated to sidewalks.

“I would bet that there’s going to be residents in every district that are going to say: ‘You know what? I want to be part of that sidewalk repair program,'” Treviño said. “The more we can grow that pot, the better.”

An additional $17 million, the bulk of which ($12 million) comes from the 2017 bond, will be used for building sidewalks where there are none.

The budget maintains street maintenance funding at $110 million, the same as last year, and prioritizes the city’s most deteriorated streets. Half of the money is allocated based on the size of each Council district’s network and the other $55 million based on the condition of its network.

The City's 2020 budget allocates street maintenance funds by City Council district based on size and condition of its network.
The City’s 2020 budget allocates street maintenance funds by City Council district based on size and condition of its network.

This so-called “equity lens” strategy for street improvements, which prioritizes those neglected streets, started with the 2018 budget and was continued in 2019. When this year’s fiscal year’s budget is completed in March 2020, all districts are projected to have an average pavement condition score of 70 or above, said TCI interim Director Razi Hosseini. Pavement condition scores of 70 are considered to be better than average – an A or B grade. A street is considered “failing” if it is rated 40 or below.

The budget includes $1.2 million for bicycle-related spending, including updating the outdated 2011 Bike Master Plan, restriping bike lanes, safety education and outreach, and other enhancements. It also funds three positions for staff dedicated to developing the plan and implementing bike facility projects.

While TCI staff noted the City has doubled its bike facilities since 2011, it has completed a “very small” percentage of the overall vision.

“When are we going to take bike lanes seriously?” Councilman John Courage (D9) said. “I hope the Council eight years from now doesn’t have to go back and do another Bike Master Plan.”

The proposed budget includes a Storm Water Utility Fee increase of 2.25 percent, which means residential fees will go up by $1.30 and non-residential fees by $8.90. The fee is based on the amount of area on a property where water cannot penetrate the ground. This increase will generate an additional $1.1 million in revenue for capital drainage projects, Hosseini said.

City Council is scheduled to vote on the fiscal year 2020 budget on Sept. 12. Before then, it will review portions of the budget in several more meetingsSASpeakUp, the City’s public engagement arm, will take input from the community through a surveyan event this Saturday, and via a “Telephone Town Hall” at which residents can call in to share their views and ask questions. Click here to view the schedule.

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and mental health. She was the San Antonio Report's...