Skybridge Spanning Downtown Street to be Complete This Summer

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The H-E-B pedestrian bridge will cross Cesar Chavez Blvd and includes a parking garage for H-E-B employees.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

The H-E-B pedestrian skybridge will cross Cesar Chavez Blvd and includes a parking garage for H-E-B employees.

During one weekend in March, construction crews hoisted a completely assembled pedestrian skybridge into place over a downtown street.

The skybridge connects a new parking garage with the historic headquarters of H-E-B to provide safe passage for pedestrians and is meant to serve as a symbolic gateway to the King William neighborhood.

But work on the bridge and the six-level garage continues, now spanning almost a year, and won’t be complete until later this summer, said an H-E-B spokeswoman.

One reason is the complexity of the project, say engineers. The 750-car garage is fairly standard, there’s a unique louver system on the corners of the structure that called for some coordination with suppliers, said Geoffrey Raasch, design engineer in the Houston office of Walker Consultants. But then there’s the skybridge itself.

“The most challenging aspect was during the bridge erection,” Raasch said. Rather than framing the bridge across the road piece by piece, which would have required closing the roadway for an indefinite amount of time, the bridge was brought to the site in three pieces, assembled, and lifted into place March 9 while most of us slept.

The skybridge is made of heavy-bolted steel plates, 160 feet long and 10 feet tall by 10 feet across. It stands 27 feet above the four-lane César Chávez Boulevard near Dwyer Avenue. The garage is situated along César Chávez between Dwyer and South Main and features façade screening and a rooftop shading trellis. Whiting-Turner is the general contractor for the project.

Ford, Powell & Carson, a San Antonio-based architectural firm, designed the skybridge to mimic historic bridges along the San Antonio River. The firm’s description of the skybridge notes the “human-scale detail in the steel-workers’ craft – the cast concrete elements with chipped edges, the stacked clay tile elements, and in the landscape planting. This project should be a delight for both pedestrians and vehicular traffic.”

The H-E-B pedestrian bridge will cross Cesar Chavez Blvd and includes a parking garage for H-E-B employees.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

The parking garage holds 750 vehicles for H-E-B employees.

The skybridge connects to H-E-B headquarters, located at the San Antonio Arsenal (established in 1859), which sits within the River Improvement Overlay District, the Arsenal Local Historic District, and near a designated local historic landmark. The King William Association’s architectural advisory board reviewed the proposal in December 2017 and voted to approve the design.

Though a representative of the San Antonio Conservation Society reminded the Historic and Design Review Commission that the group was opposed to skybridges in the past, commissioners unanimously approved the project on December 6, 2017, and construction began June 18.

A historical and notable bridges website, Bridgehunter, lists 18 pedestrian-only bridges in San Antonio.

10 thoughts on “Skybridge Spanning Downtown Street to be Complete This Summer

    • I’m pretty sure it’s exclusively for H-E-B pedestrians. Some of the phrasing in the story sure makes it sounds like it will be public but that’s not how H-E-B has done things with the downtown campus especially since they bought South Main Avenue and closed it.

      • It is a private bridge and has nothing to do with the King William neighborhood. The KWA AAC commented because it often does so on nearby projects, especially those in the river overlay.

        • Thanks for that clarification. The “meant to serve as a symbolic gateway to the King William neighborhood” statement is misleading. By whom? Maybe by heb – which, as noted above, has already bought and privatized/closed off blocks of several public streets – but assuredly not by actual residents.

          • Clarification for you, Skeptical Sue (how pathetic to go thru life that way) – the streets HEB closed off were never public streets. They were streets within the old Arsenal that happened to connect to some public thouroghfares outside the Post. Similar to Fort Sam. They became “public” when the Arsenal closed. Also similar to the stretch of Main St. that went between the old County Courthouse and the Justice Center – never a street, although the City usurped it and made the connection to Main Plaza.

  1. skybridges for pedestrians are a waste of money, what is truly needed is a walkable street so that all pedestrians (not just those that use the skybridge) are safe as they walk. Spend this $$ on narrowing the street, widening sidewalks, putting in crosswalks, planting trees and creating barrier bikelanes.

    Further, HEB development downtown is not great – they could take after other city downtown grocers/grocer headquarters – multiple story buildings with mixed uses of retail, office, apartments and underground parking.

    • You are not paying attention (gee, how unusual for San Antonio), so let this tidbit “dawn” on you.
      The skybridge is for HEB employees to get to the new garage without having to negotiate the VERY busy Cesar Durango Street. Not a waste of money (and why do you care anyway? It’s HEB’s money).
      AND, HEB development IS great – they took an old abandoned beat up arsenal and turned it into a fabulous corporate campus in what was a lousy part of town. They are a GREAT corporate citizen.

  2. Looks to me like a reasonable solution to a practical problem — a volume of foot traffic needing to cross a moderately busy street at certain hours that would otherwise produce both a safety hazard and an impediment to the flow of traffic. Kudos to H-E-B for stepping up to solve this problem with its own resources instead of soaking the taxpayers — and for making a serious effort in the area of aesthetics while doing the job.

  3. ‪One could say that the tragedy here is that SATX city council can’t get the political will to do more to protect pedestrians therefore HEB made a decision to protect its employees.‬

  4. Curious. Will this parking garage free up other HEB parking lots? If so, will there be a corporate office expansion?

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