Bandera Road study looks at six-mile flyover or four new lanes

UTSA researchers have created this rendering of a boulevard approach for Bandera Road, featuring two additional access road lanes in each direction.

UTSA researchers are studying options for the future of Bandera Road, with the goal of taking the best one to state transportation officials for consideration.

The city of Leon Valley is paying $18,250 for the study, which includes an economic analysis and computer models showing several alternatives, like a six-mile elevated highway connecting Loop 410 to Loop 1604.

“If a flyover were to be built, the research would suggest that property values would start to decline,” said Thomas Tunstall, senior research director at UTSA Institute for Economic Development. “Perhaps as little as 10 percent. Perhaps as much as 60 percent or more.”

“When you think about it, do you really want one of these within sight of your house?” Tunstall added. “What do the potential owners that you're going to sell it to think about that, when they see it?”

Businesses would also take a hit but not a significant one, he said, because just 7 percent of Bandera Road traffic travels directly between 410 and 1604.

The road is one of the most congested in Texas and a frequent source of frustration for commuters.

The UTSA researchers are in favor of another option – a boulevard, featuring trees, bike lanes and wider sidewalks plus two more lanes acting as access roads on each side. Everything would be at ground level.

Faster traffic could use the three main lanes. Bus drivers, people turning right and anyone accessing the businesses along Bandera would use the two lanes on the outside, which would be separated by a median from the main lanes.

“It makes Leon Valley a place – rather than just something that you drive by it, becomes something you might drive to, in order to shop and so on,” said Bill Barker, adjunct associate professor for UTSA's Urban and Regional Planning program. He pointed out the boulevard design could be considered nicer and more pleasant.

The public did not seem in favor of the flyover, according to Kelly Kuenstler, Leon Valley city manager. People got a look at the preliminary study last month. Now, the UTSA team is making changes based on the feedback and is expected to present its findings to the public in January.

Kuenstler said San Antonio Councilwoman Ana Sandoval is involved in the project, as her district contains part of Bandera Road. (Eckhert Road divides the two cities.)

Leaders from both cities will listen to feedback, jointly select the best option and present it to the Texas Department of Transportation, Kuenstler said.

TxDOT will ultimately decide the road’s future and how improvements would be funded.

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