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New Braunfels To Be Pulled Into Bexar Metro Planning Organization, Other Rural Areas Weigh Options

Billy Hathorn

The San Antonio-Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is expanding its reach to the north of the city, where federal authorities say New Braunfels is now part of the San Antonio metro area.

The SA-BC MPO, which acts as a funnel for federal funds for roads and transportation projects, has been assigned to a jurisdiction within Bexar County for 50+ years, but the 2010 census shows the population northward has increased dramatically, with high density up and down IH-35.

MPO Spokesman Scott Ericksen said that means federal law requires the planning organization to pull in New Braunfels.

"They thought that they were going to reach the 50,000 population threshold and be able to become their own MPO. So when the 2010 census came out and connected New Braunfels to San Antonio, it kind of surprised everybody," Ericksen said.

New Braunfels Mayor Gale Pospisil said her city's hope of forming its own planning organization from Seguin to Boerne was shot down by just a tiny portion of population density measured by the paved parking lot at Tree of Life Church on IH-35.

"Part of their parking lot is in the boundary area that they come out to measure, and so because there is some paved area that’s within the San Antonio boundary, we got included in their urbanized area," Pospisil said. 

Seguin, Comal County, Guadalupe County and Boerne had a choice of whether to join the MPO and all agreed to join, provided the number of positions on the board remained at 19.

However, last week Bexar County Commissioners moved to increase the board to 21 members, which doesn’t work for the potential rural members who say their chances of getting federal dollars would be diluted.

Any changes must also be approved by the City of San Antonio, VIA Metropolitan Transit, and the Texas Department of Transportation. The San Antonio-Bexar County MPO doesn’t expect any movement on the issue until the next board meeting in July. 

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.