The Westside Creeks Linear Creekway Trails Project will bring miles of new trails for students, hikers, and bicyclists when it’s completed next year. Roberto Rodriguez, former San Antonio River Authority (SARA) board member representing District 2, is credited as the person primarily responsible for obtaining support from the city and county for the Westside Creeks restoration.
Robert Ramirez, co-chair of the Westside Creeks Restoration Oversight Committee, said the project concerns the linear trails along the Apache, San Pedro, Alazán and Martínez Creeks. Ramirez said Rodriguez was instrumental in the initial effort to get the Westside Creeks projects moving.
“He was a relentless advocate for the creeks’ restoration, and it is only his health and family obligations that keep him from continued active involvement in the effort,” Ramirez stated in an email.
Rudy Farias, the SARA staff liaison to the Westside Creeks Restoration Oversight Committee, has been working with the committee since 2008 to make Rodriguez’s dream a reality.
“The Committee was tasked with developing a conceptual plan for restoring and adding recreational amenities for the four Westside Creeks,” Farias stated in a Sept. 15 email. “The lead consultant was AECOM and the conceptual plan was completed in June 2011.
The Westside Creeks website states funding for the linear creekway trails projects was supported through resolutions approved by the Parks and Recreation Board and Creekways Advisory Board in 2011.
To date, the City has funded trails along the Apache/San Pedro Creek and a portion of Alazán and Martínez Creeks.
“The City and Bexar County are also funding improvements at Elmendorf Lake,” Farias wrote. “Approximate cost for these Linear Creekway Trails and Elmendorf Lake Park improvements is $22.1 million for design, administration and construction.”
With the most recent passage of Proposition 2 in May 2015, Farias hopes funding to complete the trails along the Westside Creeks will be secured.
“As for the restoration,” he wrote, “the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) selected the Westside Creeks Restoration Project for a National Pilot Program for expedited feasibility studies in June 2011. The USACE feasibility study received approval in 2014 for an estimated $67,506,000 restoration project. This would be a 65/35 cost share with the local community contributing 35% (roughly $24,561,000). At the federal level, funding is pending with the Office of Management and Budget.”
The trails and Elmendorf Lake Park were designed by Terra Design. “The Corps Feasibility Study was conducted by the USACE with assistance from SARA,” Farias stated. “The trails and Elmendorf Lake Park improvements are managed on behalf of the City and County by SARA.”
Like the San Pedro Creek project, the San Antonio River Authority serves as the project manager. But while Bexar County provides the lion’s share of funds for San Pedro Creek, the City of San Antonio provides funds for the Westside Creeks.
When completed in 2016, we will have a series of hike and bike trails west of downtown and an improved Elmendorf Lake Park. The ugly architecture of the ’50s federal flood control program will remain until the Federal funding is secured.
“The Westside Creeks Restoration Project plan, when completed, will include an improved environment with water quality enhancements, erosion control, bank stabilization, and flood control,” Farias stated.
When finished, one will be able to hike a half mile on the Alazán Creekway Trail from Josephine Tobin Drive to Lombrano Street. It will permit safe pedestrian passage underneath Waverly and Culebra Streets and connect Woodlawn Lake Park to West End Park and the Frank Garrett Community Center.
The latest monthly update reveals that work is underway at the Woodlawn Lake Casting Pond on Josephine Tobin and at the Waverly and Culebra Streets bridge crossings. The project is estimated to be completed in January 2016.
The half-mile long trail along the Martínez Creekway, also due for completion in the spring, flows along the stream near the intersection of Fredericksburg Road and Mulberry Avenue down to Cincinnati Avenue.
Bicyclists will be able to depart the VIA Metropolitan Primo bus on Fredericksburg and ride along Martínez Creek to access the bike lane on Cincinnati. Bike riders can then travel on to Woodlawn Lake (and the Alazán Trail) or to St. Mary’s University.
According to the monthly update, the closure and demolition of East Drive is complete. Construction barricades advising of road closure are installed. Grading work for the new trail is progressing between Magnolia and Cincinnati.
The plans for the Apache/San Pedro Creekways Trail, slated for completion in spring 2016, is more ambitious. Park trails near Our Lady of the Lake University will connect Elmendorf Lake Park to Apache Creek Park to Cassiano Park near Zarzamora Street. From there, the 3.5 mile Apache Creekways Trail will skirt Amistad Park to the confluence of the San Pedro Creek.
If one hikes upstream on the San Pedro Creek in 2018, he or she will traverse the colorful and cultural glories of the city’s gift for our 300th birthday. The San Pedro Creek Improvements Project will be partially completed in time for our tercentennial in May 2018.
The San Pedro Creek trail will go from the north at IH-35 and the flood tunnel inlet near Fox Tech High School to the south at IH-35 near the stockyards (see the Rivard Report San Pedro Creek Archives).
At the Apache and San Pedro Creek confluence, one will be able to hike downstream to where the waters merge with the San Antonio River. From there, one can hike, bike, or kayak downstream to the Mission Reach or explore upstream to the city’s core and the Museum Reach.
The most recent construction progress update states that support piers for three bridges near Elmendorf Lake have been completed. One of three bridges has been delivered and will be painted prior to being hoisted into place. Work on the hike and bike trails is progressing with a portion of the trail at 24th Street already poured. A structure to treat storm water before it drains into the lake is being constructed, as this will improve water quality. Work is also underway to remove invasive plant species along the shore.
Work on the Apache/San Pedro Creekways Trail is underway. Concrete work has been completed at Cassiano Park up to Navidad Street. The segment between Navidad and Trinity Streets is progressing as well. Construction is estimated to be completed in March 2016.
Take a look at the map to see how it all ties together. We had better start getting in shape. There will be a lot of streams and new trails to explore!
The public is invited to the Westside Creeks Restoration Oversight Committee meetings. There is no charge to attend. The next meeting is Oct. 13 at 6 p.m. at the San Antonio River Authority on 100 E. Guenther Street.
*Top image: Confluence of Apache (left); Alazán Creeks in June 2015. Photo by Don Mathis.