SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – A new report by TexPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group lists San Antonio’s Loop 1604 expansion project as “one of the country’s most egregious highway boondoggles.”
The Texas Department of Public Transportation plans to widen Loop 1604 to ten lanes between Bandera Road (Texas Highway 16) to IH 35 at a cost of nearly $1.4 billion. Construction is expected to begin in 2021.
“Every time we spend money on infrastructure, we have an opportunity to re-envision the future,” said Bay Scoggin, TexPIRG Education Fund State Director. “If we’re smarter about how we spend our transportation dollars and focus instead on building a 21st-century transportation system, Texas can build a better world coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, one with less pollution, less gridlock and more public and active transit.”
Annalisa Peace, Executive Director of Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance, is concerned that the expansion of Loop 1604 “cuts right through the heart of the recharge zone in Bexar County.”
The Loop 1604 expansion plan includes new access roads, which Peace says would add to development in the area.
“The additional frontage roads included in the project will increase traffic, add to congestion and commuter delays, and compromise the quality and quantity of San Antonio’s primary source of water by encouraging high density commercial development in one of the most environmentally vulnerable areas in Texas,” said Peace.
The sixth annual Highway Boondoggles report recommends that Texas cancel the Loop 1604 Expansion project and other proposed highway expansions, and instead invest in more effective transportation solutions, such as road repair and increased transit.
“Texas, like the rest of America, still has a misplaced appetite for costly, polluting and ineffective highway expansion projects,” John Stout, U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s Transportation advocate and report co-author, said. “We need to stop throwing away money on wasteful highway boondoggles – especially during this economically devastating health crisis – and start investing in public transit as well as walking and biking.”