Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
A prominent intersection in San Antonio's LGBTQIA district will feature four rainbow crosswalks, thanks to private fundraising efforts, just in time for the city's annual pride parade in June.
In June 2017, City Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1) requested the pride themed crosswalks at the intersection of North Main Avenue and West Evergreen Street. City Council's Governance Committee approved a pilot program for the project in August 2017.
"The addition of this crosswalk will affirm San Antonio is a place of acceptance and equality," Treviño stated in his request. "The crosswalk will provide pedestrian safety while promoting a message of inclusion and tolerance."
The crosswalks at the intersection passed their "functional service life" and need to be replaced, according to a report on the project produced by the City's Transportation and Capital Improvements (TCI) department earlier this month. The City will provide $12,668 for standard white line replacements – less than the projected $20,000.
Individuals, area business owners, and Treviño collectively raised $19,832 for the additional cost of the colored paint needed to complete the rainbow. At least $10,000 of the privately raised funds came from selling custom Fiesta medals designed to resemble the crosswalk, Treviño told the Rivard Report on Tuesday.
Originally slated to cost $68,000, the project total is now $32,501. "It's my guess [that TCI] did not have a well-defined scope [last year]," Treviño said of the change.
The project will be completed by June 23, he said. The Pride "Bigger Than" Texas Festival and Parade will take place on Saturday, June 30.
"We're happy it's going to happen before the parade," hesaid.
Several LGBTQIA-owned businesses, including dance clubs, bars, and restaurants, are located on or near North Main Avenue, known as "The Strip." The pride parade travels south on Main Street and will pass over the brightly-colored intersection.
"It will be exciting to have something emblematic of our community that we march across," said Chris Forbrich, chairman of the San Antonio Stonewall Democrats. "It's exciting for us to be in the community, to be seen by the people of San Antonio and of south Texas."
He said that for a long time, places like The Strip were the only safe spaces for LGBTQIA people to congregate in San Antonio. While communities worldwide continue to strive for civil rights of people regardless of their sexual orientation, he added, the crosswalk will remind everyone of the inclusive atmosphere found on The Strip.
Not everyone voiced support for the project when it was proposed one year ago. Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6) criticized the initiative in August 2017 saying the proposition should have gone before a full City Council vote. He added that no tax payer dollars should go towards adding the colors, and that other groups should have the same opportunity to design a crosswalk. He used the example of allowing Veteran's organizations to print emblems of military service.
Brockhouse did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.
The item did not require a full Council vote because public funds were already set aside for routine maintenance, City officials said at the time.
Paul Berry, chief communications officer for TCI, told the Rivard Report Tuesday afternoon that a six month study would be conducted after installation to evaluate driver and pedestrian engagement with the crosswalk.