Re-Imagining The San Pedro Creek Space, Part 2 | Texas Public Radio

Re-Imagining The San Pedro Creek Space, Part 2

Sep 9, 2014

The San Pedro Creek project has been making a lot of headlines of late. This is a series to get Bexar County residents aware of what its creators say it will bring. First, you have to know where the project will happen. San Pedro creek flows roughly north to south on the west side of downtown. As far as being an attractive creek, it’s not.

"Over the years it’s become a highly neglected eyesore," said Precinct 2 County Commissioner Paul Elizondo, who cites its location and history.

"It’s in the heart of downtown. The creek flows right in back of the Spanish Governor’s Palace, city hall," Elizondo said.

And while there's a focus on the project's coming amenities, there’s a large flood control aspect to it, as San Antonio River Authority (SARA) Engineer Jeff Tyler detailed.

"The project is located over the top of a flood control tunnel that was constructed in the 90s. It starts at the tunnel inlet, which is right up by Fox Tech, and it comes out at the outlet, which is right by Guadalupe," he said. "So between those two points, all the runoff that’s coming into the tunnel inlet, we’re protected from that."

That tunnel is 24 ft. wide, 150 ft. deep, and channels floodwaters away from downtown. But SARA is looking to take flood control to a new level by reducing flood plain itself.  

"The concept is we’d like to bring the flood plain back into the channel, so that it’s contained within the channel," Tyler said. 

"With the extension of the project it links up very nicely with the Creekways project," said SARA General Manager Suzanne Scott.

Creekways is a city of San Antonio project, while the San Pedro Creek project is largely a Bexar County initiative. As part of SARA’s preliminary design process, they divided up the two mile San Pedro project into different character areas.

"Each character area is very diverse," Scott said. "I mean, if you start at the beginning with the, what we call the Town Lake Area."

Town Lake Area, first character area
Credit San Antonio River Authority

The Town Lake area is at the northern end, starting at Quincy Street by IH-35 and running south to Travis Street.

"So the idea here is to widen the creek a little bit; make it more of a destination for the residents there," Scott said. "There are several apartment complexes that are in this area, so that if we can bring people to the creek, it’ll be more of an amenity to the neighborhood."  

Visuals show a widened, fairly natural-looking San Pedro Creek, trails on either side, with lily pads, large trees and plenty of landscaping. It looks nothing like the concrete ditch that’s there now. Commissioner Elizondo is a big supporter.

"Once you start doing that you’re creating places for people to live," Elizondo said. "People can actually live downtown, work downtown and go to UTSA downtown."  

Ancient Water Area, second character area
Credit San Antonio River Authority

"So the next one is what we call the Alameda and the Ancient Water area," said Scott.

Ancient Water is a three-block stretch that runs from Travis Street to Dolorosa, paralleling Camaron Street.

"And this is a combined area that is really kind of narrow right-of-way," Scott said. "This is near the Alameda Theater, which of course has been going through some renovations of its own."

Designs show the creek's channel as much smaller, and lots of colorful tile. Scott continued to describe it.

"Integrating, where we can, native vegetation," Scott said. "Very interesting art is the concept here, to have interesting places where people can enjoy the walk. And of course, trying to celebrate through signage and other things the historical connections that are in this area."

Also here is a distinct two-level walk.

"I think the idea that you’re starting to hear here in these concepts is that there’s always going to be a low walk and an upper walk," Scott said. "So that if you want to stroll by San Pedro Creek, you can either be on the creek level, or you can be higher, on the street level."