Biden’s budget includes funding for San Antonio’s Westside Creeks project

The $ 6 trillion budget proposed by President Joe Biden includes $ 2.34 million for work on the Westside Creeks project, which includes rehabilitation and habitat enhancement along the Alazán, Apache, Martinez streams. , Zarzamora and lower San Pedro.

The president’s proposal is awaiting congressional consideration and has been criticized by Republicans as excessive. Local leaders see the inclusion of Westside Creeks in the plan as a beacon of hope for a project that has been running for more than 13 years. Bexar County is the financial partner, while the San Antonio River Authority is the project sponsor in conjunction with the US Army Corps of Engineers.

The local congressional delegation pleaded in favor of the project. US Representative Henry Cuellar D-Laredo called it “a vital investment for the community”.

“I have been working for several years to obtain funding for this project. I am happy to see that this is also a priority for the administration and I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that it is funded, ”Cuellar said. “It is vital that we continue to prioritize this environmental restoration project to promote access to natural environments and improve water quality for the residents of my neighborhood.

U.S. Representative Tony Gonzales, R-San Antonio, was encouraged to see the allocation for Westside Creeks in the proposed budget and looked forward to working with his colleagues on the House Committee on Appropriations “to adopt a fiscally responsible budget that will benefit everyone.” Americans. “

Some hiking and biking trails on a section of Zarzamora stream near San Ignacio Avenue. The San Antonio River Authority has confirmed President Joe Biden’s budget inclusion of $ 2.34 million for engineering and design work on the Westside Creeks project.

Kin Man Hui / Personal photographer

“This project would revitalize economically and environmentally distressed areas in San Antonio,” said Gonzales, whose vast district of West Texas is adjacent to the project area.

The project would transform 11 miles of streams by restoring aquatic ecosystems with native grasses, wildflowers and trees, and rebuilding natural stream channels while maintaining current levels of flood control.

Using the benefits of ecosystem restoration and recreation as a basis, the upgrades would provide safer bicycle and pedestrian mobility, access to outdoor recreation, and a stronger bond between residents and the urban stream system, in part thanks to a living outdoor classroom, the river authority said.

Bexar County Commissioner Justin Rodriguez said the funding “would allow us to begin the important work of restoring ecosystems in the heart of San Antonio.”

The project began in 2008 to restore streams that were channeled as part of a 1954 federal flood control program. A concept plan released in 2011 provided nearly $ 250 million in environmental restoration and trails for the Alazán, Apache and Martinez streams.

Works of art can be seen on the dam at Lake Elmendorf.  The San Antonio River Authority has confirmed President Joe Biden's budget inclusion of $ 2.34 million for engineering and design work on the Westside Creeks project.

Works of art can be seen on the dam at Lake Elmendorf. The San Antonio River Authority has confirmed President Joe Biden’s budget inclusion of $ 2.34 million for engineering and design work on the Westside Creeks project.

Kin Man Hui / Personal photographer

A view of the park from Lake Elmendorf on Thursday.  The San Antonio River Authority has confirmed President Joe Biden's budget inclusion of $ 2.34 million for engineering and design work on the Westside Creeks project.

A view of the park from Lake Elmendorf on Thursday. The San Antonio River Authority has confirmed President Joe Biden’s budget inclusion of $ 2.34 million for engineering and design work on the Westside Creeks project.

Kin Man Hui / Personal photographer

A $ 15 million city-county project completed in 2017 added trails and environmental improvements to Lake Elmendorf Park. Local officials have since started positioning Westside Creeks as a top priority for federal funding applications.

Another component of the project, the construction of recreational trails, has been almost fully completed, with trail extensions and related equipment slated to open this year, for a total of 13 miles. The extensions along the Alazán, Apache and Zarzamora streams, costing $ 17.2 million, were funded by a local sales tax of 1/8 of a cent and a $ 2 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration.

The 3.5-mile Apache Creek Greenway has been named a National Recreational Trail by the National Park Service, joining the Leon and Salado Creek Greenways and the Medina and San Antonio Rivers with similar designations.

A spokeswoman for the city’s parks and recreation department said the designation, the first for a trail on the west side, places the Apache Greenway in an inventory that is “a key benchmark for hikers and bikers. Across the country”.

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