State of Texas votes to block San Antonio's long-planned development of Broadway corridor

click to enlarge A cyclist pedals north from downtown on Broadway. - SANFORD NOWLIN
Sanford Nowlin
A cyclist pedals north from downtown on Broadway.
The Texas Transportation Commission voted Thursday to halt San Antonio's voter-backed project redeveloping Broadway north of downtown, the Express-News reports.

The city's upgrades would have removed a traffic lane in either direction of the thoroughfare but added protected bike paths, more sidewalks and additional landscaping. The upgrades were key to a $42 million bond project passed in 2017, and the city has already spent funds on design work.

San Antonio moved forward on the design with the assumption that a Texas Department of Transportation order from 2014 handed over control of Broadway, technically a Texas highway called State Loop 368.

However, the commission's chairman, San Antonio banker J. Bruce Bugg, said the city plans would be "in direct conflict" with an order by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to cut congestion on Texas roadways, the daily reports. The commission voted 3-1 to take back TxDOT's order transferring the highway.

“What we’re trying to do is stay consistent with our congestion relief initiative and not go backwards by reducing capacity,” said Bugg, an Abbott appointee, according to the report. He was among the three commissioners who voted to kill the project. 

According to the Express-News, 37 San Antonio leaders — among them Rackspace founder Graham Weston and billionaire Pearl developer Kit Goldsbury — signed a letter asking Abbott and Bugg not to wrest Broadway out of city hands.

In comments to the daily before the vote, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff suggested state's move was another effort by Abbott to swat down Democrat-run urban areas. The governor's sniping at the state's major metros over local control broke into open warfare during the pandemic.

“I’m almost sure it came from the governor,” Wolff said. “As you know, urban areas are not well-liked by the governor.”

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