Bandera Road’s future — tree-lined boulevard or elevated highway?

The 'boulevard proposal' favored by Leon Valley mayor Chris Riley was put forth by UTSA urban planners Thomas Tunstall, Bill Barker, and Dr. Richard Tangum, who were hired as city consultants.

(February 5, 2018) -- A freeway fight is brewing in Leon Valley.

Folks in the small city on the Northwest Side might call it a heated discussion, but when the Texas Department of Transportation recently rejuvenated plans to put an elevated four-lane freeway on top of its main drag, they started choosing sides.

Leon Valley residents do agree on the problem. Bandera Road, with three lanes in each direction, handles about 60,000 vehicles daily and is jammed at rush hours.

Drivers waiting at intersections such as Huebner and Eckhert roads often sit through three or four cycles of red lights before inching to the next glacial slog.

TxDOT calls it the seventh most congested traffic corridor in Bexar County and one of the 100 worst in Texas.

“My coping mechanism for Bandera Road is to simply not drive on it” at its peak traffic hours, confesses Chris Riley, a 40-year resident of the city and its mayor since 2004.

Leaders of Leon Valley, population 12,000, have sought a solution for at least a decade, one that doesn’t risk harming the veterinarian clinics, pizza joints, nail salons, massage parlors, taquerias and mariscos, plasma centers and dentists’ offices that line it. A town meeting in late January brought out more than 80 citizens, consultants and elected officials.

TxDOT has proposed various options, including a $40 million “superstreet” approach (like the existing U.S. 281 north of 1604, soon to be replaced), partial “flyovers” of a mile or two, and the one seemingly favored by the state agency, a seven-mile elevated freeway connecting Loop 410 to Loop 1604, with new bike and pedestrian lanes at street level, which would cost an estimated $350 million.

Visit the San Antonio Express-News for the article.