Crosswalk Appears on St. Mary’s Strip, Prompting Swift Action from City

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A make shift crosswalk and narrowed street lanes draw praise and criticism from neighbors.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

A make shift crosswalk and narrowed street lanes draw praise and criticism from neighbors.

A pedestrian crosswalk appeared Friday morning at the intersection of North St. Mary’s and East Mistletoe, and a group calling itself the San Antonio Department of Transformation claimed responsibility for what the City called “vandalism.”

On Friday morning, bold white lines were painted across the pavement for the crosswalk, and new traffic lines were visible on the street to shorten the distance between curbs. Brightly-colored polka dots accented the newly demarcated perimeter. Bright orange plungers were placed along the border of the area to act as a physical border.

A person who acknowledged being responsible for creating the crosswalk told the Rivard Report on Friday that the group wanted to call attention to unsafe conditions for pedestrians in the area. The area is part of the St. Mary’s Strip that is populated with restaurants, bars, and retail stores.

“We see St. Mary’s as having the possibility for a fantastic pedestrian experience,” said the person, who spoke to the Rivard Report on the condition of anonymity. “There are so many places to bump into and walk into at all hours of the day.

“However, if you’re walking on there it can feel scary. You can’t walk side-by-side with somebody for a lot of the way. Crossing the streets, most of them have very wide turning radiuses to allow cars to turn onto them very quickly, which they do.”

City workers began removing the paint on the crosswalk Friday afternoon. In a statement sent to the Rivard Report, San Antonio Deputy City Manager Peter Zanoni said that the Department of Transportation and Capital Improvements (TCI) reviewed the makeshift crosswalk and deemed it unsafe.

“TCI crews were then dispatched to remove the vandalism, resulting in a waste of City crew time and taxpayer money,” Zanoni stated. “In accordance with city and state law, this type of action may result in a misdemeanor to felony offense punishable with fines based upon the amount of property damage.

“Additionally, the City of San Antonio can prosecute for recovery of tax dollars spent to restore the road back to its original condition, which based on the work done today and what still remains, could be substantial.”

While working under the name SADOT, the person involved in creating the crosswalk explained that it is not affiliated with an anonymous group that in January 2016 installed a temporary chalk crosswalk across Broadway leading towards the Pearl. The installation received some attention, but a permanent crosswalk has not been installed.

“[The previous crosswalk on Broadway] didn’t seem to be too bad … but this one [on Mistletoe] is going to cost the city some dollars,” Zanoni told the Rivard Report in a phone interview. City crews are expected to start repaving damaged portion of the intersection on Saturday, depending on the weather.

In an email sent to the Rivard Report on Friday morning, the group said it wanted to draw attention to an area that is challenging for pedestrians.

“With the inclusion of this corridor in the 2017 Bond program, there is a great opportunity to make the strip a pedestrian-focused environment,” the email stated. “We hope this intervention gives our city leaders some fresh ideas for that project, while also giving residents and visitors to the area a taste of what the street could be if safety for pedestrians was a priority.”

The installation at the intersection of North St. Mary's Street and East Mistletoe Avenue highlights the challenges pedestrians face on a daily basis.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

The installation at the intersection of North St. Mary’s Street and East Mistletoe Avenue highlights the challenges pedestrians face on a daily basis.

The individual involved in creating the crosswalk noted that the particular portion of the road that intersects with East Mistletoe is both long and has a particularly wide turn radius that allows cars to “fly” off North St. Mary’s, posing a danger to pedestrians.

“What we tried to do is shorten it and do something that would force cars to pay a little bit more attention to make that turn a little bit more slowly and to give pedestrians a shorter distance to cross while providing some physical protection,” the individual said, also claiming that it took around an hour to complete the crosswalk with $200 worth of materials.

San Antonio has for several years been working to reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities throughout the city. The City’s department of Transportation & Capital Improvements said that 65 pedestrians were struck and killed by cars in 2016, and 46 were killed in 2015. The City launched its Vision Zero campaign in September 2015, aiming to reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities to zero through educational outreach.

Krazy Kat Music on North St. Mary’s Street overlooks the intersection where the crosswalk was painted. Owner Elizabeth Lessard said she thought there were a lot of problems at the intersection and that the crosswalk was a good idea, describing the intersection as “scary” at night.

“I just don’t know why the City is neglecting the street like that,” Lessard said. “They really need to do some safety stuff here.”

However, Rev. Thaddeus Tabak and Businesses Manager Connie Littlefield of Our Lady of Sorrows Church, which is adjacent to the intersection, called the crosswalk ugly, saying they feared that cars would no longer be able to park along the street. Littlefield said she hadn’t seen a pedestrian or vehicular accident at the intersection.

“The City knows what’s good for the people,” Littlefield said.

The City’s attorneys are “looking into legal action,” Zanoni said, “but you have to catch them in action,” meaning authorities would need videos or photos of the incident. If caught, the offender would be fined and required to pay the cost of restoring public infrastructure, he said, “which could be a pretty hefty fine.”

On Friday night, Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1) stated he agreed with the removal of the crosswalk “for public safety reasons”, but that “this temporary project has highlighted a great example of the ongoing pedestrian improvements in this area and the work that remains.”

28 thoughts on “Crosswalk Appears on St. Mary’s Strip, Prompting Swift Action from City

  1. What a bummer. I saw a picture this morning and thought it was a great improvement. I didn’t pay enough attention to realize it wasn’t legit. Now it’s gone. SA definitely needs to prioritize the pedestrian experience in our near downtown neighborhoods.

  2. In my experience San Antonio in very unfriendly to pedestrians and hostile to people in wheelchairs. Anything to increase pedestrian space will be an improvement.

  3. I applaud SADOT for starting a conversation about how to make the streets safer for pedestrians. More pedestrian friendly streets make for a better city to live in.

    From my experience, business owners ALWAYS complain that pedestrian improvements deter car customers. 1. Those deterrents are almost never realized. & 2. Statistically, non car customers typically spend more disposable income per location than car customers.

  4. I have been at that intersection late into the evening. Something needs to be done. It’s dangerous & I’ve almost been hit a number of times. Cars zoom off of St Mary’s with no thought for the pedestrians!

  5. Nobody was fined or prosecuted for overspending $100K in tax payer money after prematurely removing the Travis Park statue; an object away from traffic.

  6. Making the St. Mary’s Strip pedestrian friendly is a NO-BRAINER. Disappointed that the city has to get its wake up call from a random citizen, not from the dozens of fatalities caused by unsafe conditions.

  7. Has Zanoni ever gotten out of his bubble and walked this intersection? Doubt it, because he would know it is very unsafe.
    City of San Antonio touts zero vision and walkability but their actions say otherwise. It takes more than just putting in sidewalks to make a city walkable.
    Was the makeshift crosswalk more unsafe than without anything there (such as now after they removed it)? probably not!
    Does Zanoni have research that an engineered crosswalk is safer than a crosswalk such as this at a stop sign? probably not.
    Zanoni says its a waste of tax payer $$, what about the capital human $5.9mill subsidy, isn’t that a waste of tax payer $$?
    Littlefield says ‘the city knows best’, so if in the future the city wants to remove parking for a bike lane will she still say the ‘city knows best?’

  8. Creating a pedestrian friendly crosswalk is one issue; the other is that drivers going north to St. Mary’s from Mistletoe have a super difficult time! Councilman Trevino, Peter Zanoni and Our Lady of Sorrows all have great points as does SADOT, but it’s the Tobin Hill Community Association that should request TCI to determine what needs to happen to make it safe…regardless of pedestrians, bikes or autos! (for that info: check out COSA’s Neighborhood Associations @: sanantonio.gov…enter “neighborhood associations”)

    • Yes. And to remind folks, there are 7 million bucks earmarked for Josephine to Mistletoe under the current bond. Seems like that’s enough money to fix the problem. Getting engaged in that process seems wise.

  9. I find it very curious that the City would be so quick to complain of wasting taxpayer $$, when they have no problem spending needless taxpayer $$ for needless politically charged projects. And they no problem cheating you the taxpayer out of $$ when they condemn your property even if you don’t want it, and wont pay enough. Or they issue a code compliance complaint for not maintaining your property and the very one down the street that the City owns is 5′ tall and not maintained! Listen to the citizens CC’s. Corruption at its finest?

  10. Perfectly positive example of creative disruption. Councilman Trevino has the right idea. Perhaps Zanoni and Frisbie should pay attention to the problem highlighted rather than whining. Do your jobs and disruptions like this become unnecessary.

  11. Trevino and Zanoni are wrong. That’s an intersection, and therefore either a marked or unmarked crosswalk. As far as right of way goes, people walking have the exact same right of way whether it is marked or unmarked, according to Texas law. The public doesn’t recognize this, Treviño doesn’t realize it, Zanoni isn’t aware, and my guess is most police officers don’t know it, but look at Texas pedestrian codes.

  12. Krazy Kat Music on North St. Mary’s Street overlooks the intersection where the crosswalk was painted. Owner Elizabeth Lessard said she thought there were a lot of problems at the intersection and that the crosswalk was a good idea, describing the intersection as “scary” at night.

    I thought it was called St Mary’s Street Music now, not Krazy Kats?

  13. “The City knows what’s good for the people,” Littlefield said.
    Ha Ha I’ve got some ocean front property to sell this lady

  14. The City doesn’t care about infrastructure except when it’s at the behest of real estate developers. Funston has had invisible lane makers for a decade or more despite multiple requests for repainting. Residential street maintenance–hah–don’t even think about it. Broadway is dangerous for pedestrians and the City’s response is to allow developers to close sidewalks for years and to provide a traffic impeder to allow Children’s Museum patrons to use Lion’s Field parking and not have to walk to the intersection at Mulberry.

  15. Dear City of San Antonio, how come there are wide and clearly visible crosswalks at the intersection of N St Mary’s and Mulberry and also at Mulberry and Stadium Drive. Yet N St Mary’s and Mistletoe (where there is church, lawyers offices residential neighborhood areas and plenty of restaurant business — there is NOT YET A CROSSWALK. Not even a well lighted area at night. By the way another area of major concern without a stop sign is the steep curve at the corner of N St Mary’s and Alvin St (there is quite a large amount of traffic leaving SAWS and Texas Capital Bank and yet cars drive quite fast coming from north to south of St Mary’s. Another area of major concern is the intersection at 4th Street, Avenue A & Lexington. In my opinion this should be a 4-way stop. With major pedestrian and car traffic flow for cultural, religious events. Another area of concern is McCullough and Avenue A, which is a T shaped intersection with a very prounounced bend curved street (McCullough), yet without STOP signs on either street!!!

  16. It is only a matter of time until North St. Mary’s becomes a dedicated pedestrian area on Friday and Saturday nights between 281 and Ashby. The situation down there is a dangerous mix of cars and bar patrons on the weekends.

  17. The 15.1 million dollar Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant (2010-2012) paid consultants to study San Antonio traffic, pedestrian injuries/deaths, and infrastructure to create a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan. However, the “City” didn’t like it and demanded changes. Perhaps the Rivard Report would like to ask the City to explain this disregard for the consultants’ recommendations.

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