Preliminary sketches produced by a private design firm demonstrate how $97 million could transform an urban core stretch of Broadway Street from a car-centric commercial corridor into a multimodal, complete street. (See photo gallery above for existing and proposed conditions.)

The ambitious plan, paid for by Centro San Antonio and developed with business and community stakeholders, calls for reduced vehicle lanes, buried utilities, wide sidewalks, bike lanes and other bike connectivity, unified wayfinding, and trees – lots of trees.

Download the 73-page report by California-based design firm MIG and Parsons Brinckerhoff of Canada here.

City Council approved $43 million for improvements on a 3-mile stretch of Broadway – from Houston Street to Hildebrand Avenue – last week as part of the $850 million 2017 Municipal Bond package. Unless other public or private funding is acquired, the scope of the project will be far smaller than the one proposed by Centro. Burying 3 miles of utility poles will be one of the big ticket items.

The Broadway Corridor is one of several projects that Centro and other downtown advocates have rallied behind.

After a series of private meetings that started more than one year ago as the bond process began to take shape, the downtown advocacy group decided to collectively support the Broadway corridor, Zona Cultural and San Pedro Creek area streets, and Hemisfair’s Civic Park.

“We were all a little suspicious about the process and how we could reach consensus on catalytic projects,” Centro President and CEO Pat DiGiovanni told the crowd at the Plaza Club Tuesday afternoon.

DiGiovanni, who spoke from his seat in the audience, was answering a question about the Broadway project and Centro’s involvement in its development during a panel discussion with City Manager Sheryl Sculley and 2017 Bond Tri-Chair Eddie Aldrete of IBC Bank. The conversation was moderated by Rivard Report Director Robert Rivard.

Centro and the Pearl facilitated the process by sponsoring the Build Your Own Broadway design competition in March 2016. The contest was organized by the Rivard Report and Overland Partners as a Place Changing event that brought dozens of creative minds to the corridor with suggestions and renderings on how to transform Broadway.

The final priorities and amenities for the City’s project will be developed by collecting input through a series of public meetings, Transportation and Capital Improvements Department Direct Mike Frisbie told the Rivard Report in an interview earlier this month. The City will also open up the contract to any and all interested design firms. This process will only be set in motion if voters approve the $445 million Streets, Bridges, and Sidewalks portion of the bond.

Voters will have six bond items on the ballot in May as the facilities bond will be divided into two categories.
Voters will have six bond items on the ballot in May as the Facilities portion of the bond will be divided into two categories.

Some projects on the bond are ready for construction, while others still need to be designed, Frisbie said.

Centro and its partners have given the Broadway corridor design process a head start, said Tony Piazzi, senior vice president of Centro’s business development.

“[The City will have a] starting point instead of starting from square one,” Piazzi said in a phone interview Tuesday evening.

The full MIG report was presented to City staff last summer but was not publicly distributed until recently. Before and after renderings were posted on the Downtown For SA website several months ago.

The main criticism of the project so far is directed at the preliminary idea to reduce the total number of vehicle lanes on certain stretches. Some City Council members and citizens are concerned that an already heavily used thoroughfare would become even more congested.

Click through the photo gallery below to see the “road diets” proposed by the MIG report for upper and lower portions of Broadway (click images to enlarge).

Iris Dimmick

Iris Dimmick

Senior reporter Iris Dimmick covers City Hall, politics, development, and more. Contact her at iris@sareport.org