Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
University of Texas at San Antonio Downtown Campus officials and at least one student have called upon the City’s Transportation and Capital Improvements department to install a crosswalk at the intersection of Buena Vista and South Leona streets.
The nearby Frio Street improvement project, which stretches from the intersection of West César E. Chávez Boulevard to Houston Street, includes crossings frequented by UTSA students and staff. But following several requests, Transportation and Capital Improvements officials will now also consider adding a crosswalk on the campus’ northern edge.
“We would love to have [a crosswalk], if it’s possible,” said Lani Cabico, senior environmental and real estate planner at UTSA. “We want to have as much walkability as possible there [and] all around the campus.”
Assistant City Engineer Luis Maltos told the Rivard Report Tuesday that traffic engineers and design consultants are working on options for getting people safely across that intersection. Many commuter students and faculty members cross Buena Vista street to get from the Cattleman’s Square parking lot to the campus.
Neither UTSA or City officials knew of any accidents that had occurred due to the absence of a crosswalk at that intersection.
Hondo Aguilar, an urban and regional planning student taking graduate classes at UTSA’s College of Architecture downtown, first requested a crosswalk at the intersection in 2014.
Inaction prompted Aguilar to found the community organization, One Crosswalk, and create a video that recorded issues he observed at the Buena Vista and South Leona streets intersection. The clip, posted on the organization’s Facebook page, includes footage of other locations near campus where he felt pedestrian improvements could be made.
“I thought posting it publicly [would make] a record of it,” Aguilar said. “I figured by posting photos and videos it was also a way for other people who had similar thoughts to chime in if they wanted to.”
Along with footage of people jaywalking across the Buena Vista and Leona intersection, Aguilar’s video makes a case for an enhanced system that stops traffic for pedestrians at the Buena Vista and North Pecos streets intersection more efficiently than the current one. Aguilar also petitions for a traffic signal on Frio Street.
“We’re upgrading that crosswalk into what we call a HAWK system, which is more like an activated crosswalk,” Maltos said, referring to part of the Frio Street improvement project, which was funded through the 2012 bond.
HAWK systems allow for protected pedestrian crossings as they only stop vehicular traffic as needed.
When Aguilar set out to get a crosswalk installed at the Buena Vista and South Leona intersection, he didn’t expect the process to be so arduous. But years of spotty communication with various City officials left him worried that his requests didn’t carry enough weight to warrant change.
Arthur Reinhardt, assistant director of Transportation and Capital Improvements, has previously told the Rivard Report that the best way for citizens to make traffic improvement requests is by connecting with the City’s 311 service. He said Tuesday that 311 received more than 2,100 requests or recommendations in fiscal year 2017.
The department reviews all requests, Reinhardt said, but one reason people may not hear back about a request is because they failed to leave adequate contact information.
Construction along Buena Vista Street can be expected to start early next year, Maltos said.
“We do have another project along Buena Vista … from Frio Street to Santa Rosa,” Maltos said. “That project is still ongoing. By the time we wrap up with Frio, we intend to start working on Buena Vista.”