Author: Lucille Sims Thomas
It’s official, The City of Schertz has won its bid to obtain funding to ensure that its system of hike and bike trails continues to be an asset for both present and future residents. Back in February, the Schertz Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Department submitted a proposal to the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (AAMPO) that detailed plans to use the desired funding to build new trails and make improvements to some of the existing ones.
The department was recently notified that it had been awarded funding in the amount of $926,613 to match $231,653 in City funds for a total of $1,158,266 to be used for the Schertz Pedestrian Routes and Bike Lanes project. This money is part of the AAMPO’s transportation alternatives program, and the City’s proposal had to beat out several other proposed projects competing for funding in the same region.
“We are excited for this opportunity to bring more trails, sidewalks, and bike lanes to the recreational network for the Schertz community. Filling in the connectivity gaps in the core of Schertz is our first priority, and then we have plans to extend the trails network to northern and southern Schertz,” said Assistant Parks, Recreation and Community Services Director, Lauren Shrum.
The Schertz Pedestrian Routes and Bike Lanes project will fill gaps in connectivity between Schertz Parkway and FM 3009, which are the main north-south corridors running through Schertz. The connections will improve accessibility, make sidewalks ADA accessible, and serve multiple pedestrian generators including schools, Schertz library, parks, businesses, the recreation center, and the Senior Center. It will also increase pedestrian and bike safety.
The funds will provide for the construction of a ten-foot, shared-use, stabilized decomposed granite trail adjacent to Wiederstein Road to fill in the connection gap and six-foot concrete sidewalk connections to fill gaps. This includes curbs, curb ramps and drainage adjacent to E. Live Oak Road. The funds will also enable bike lane striping on both sides of Woodland Oaks Drive and Savannah Drive. Not having bike lanes on both sides of those two streets means the City is out of compliance with federal regulations because this encourages contra-flow traffic. Cyclists are encouraged to ride on the right side of the road.
The money received from AAMPO will cover most of the construction costs with the City of Schertz only picking up 20 percent of bill. The City’s cost for the $1.1 million project will be $231,653 – making it a very good deal.
“Anytime we can spend 20 cents on the dollar and get that kind of return in federal dollars – it’s a good thing for the city,” Shrum said when the city was submitting its proposal.
The City of Schertz will sell some bonds to fund some of its portion of the project, something that was decided before the bid was submitted, Shrum said.
According to Shrum, Schertz currently has 17.47 miles of trails, most of which are in good shape, including a new 10-foot wide concrete trail in Pickrell Park, 1.3 miles of trails in Crescent Bend Nature Park, and 3 miles of trail on each side of Schertz Parkway between IH-35 and FM 78. Also newly-completed is a a half-mile trail in Heritage Oaks Park in the Crossvine neighborhood.
“Trails have been the number one priority in the master plan since the plan was created in 2014, so we’ve been working really hard as a department to increase our trails in the city,” she said.
“And this project fits in with that vision perfectly because it is adding and enhancing our trails system and our biking system in the City.”
The project does not include any repairs to existing trails. Long-term plans include possibly using creek beds, natural drainage ways, and utility easements to make future trail connections.
Shrum said the trails are currently very well-used, with people riding bikes to work and moms pushing strollers among other uses.
The project’s timetable, including a start date, have not been decided yet. According to Shrum, there shouldn’t be any significant impact on hikers and bikers who currently use the trails since what’s being built is all new.
“There may have to be temporary closures at the connection points between old and new trails, but other than that users should see minimal disruption to their regular routines,” Shrum said.
The AAMPO develops transportation plans and programs to address the needs of the greater San Antonio area. Their mission is to provide a comprehensive, coordinated, and continuous transportation planning process for the safe and efficient movement of people and goods, consistent with the region’s overall economic, social, and environmental goals.