San Antonio’s Enrique M. Barrera Parkway becomes 'Old Highway 90' again
San Antonians are passionate about their neighborhood identity, and for people on the city’s far West Side, returning a stretch of road to its original name has been a six-year fight.
They won that long-awaited victory Thursday as the San Antonio City Council voted to return Enrique M. Barrera Parkway back to its original name of Old Highway 90. The council’s vote reverses a 2015 decision. The official name will be “Historic Old Highway 90.”
District 6 Councilwoman Melissa Cabello Havrda said the reversal was led by community members.
“We recognize the small businesses, the veterans groups, the community that has preserved the musical, artistic, car club, deep rich culture that is Historic Old Highway 90. This is very much a community-led effort,” she said before the council’s vote.
The name change takes effect immediately but changing signage will take some time. The cost to switch the name back is expected to cost about $163,000 in city street signs and TxDOT highway signs.
The city will need to replace signs at 18 intersections, totaling about $26,000 while the city will have to pay TxDOT about $132,000 for highway signs. The rest will go to administrative costs. About $5,000 is being paid for by the petitioners that wanted the name changed back, and the remainder is coming out of the District 6 general fund budget.
Community members along Historic Old Highway 90 and the Edgewood neighborhood have long fought losing the Old Highway 90 name. While the original vote took place in 2015, a vote to change it back in 2016 failed.
Michael Cooremans, president of the Save Old Highway 90 Association, said it was like losing an identity.
“It’s kind of like taking your last name away, you know, and that’s how we identify with Old Highway 90 not just the business community but the residential community too,” he said.
The co-owner of Del Bravo Records, Javier Gutierrez, said the switch caused strife among business owners.
“A lot of businesses on Old Highway 90 have suffered because of the name change. We had been Old Highway 90 for 50 years before they decided to change the name of the road so it caused a lot of confusion. It still does today,” he said.
Gutierrez was referencing the occasions when he said customers thought his record store had moved given the new address or would be placed on other streets like Barrera Street or Enrique Street instead of Enrique M. Barrera Parkway.
Enrique M. Barrera was a city councilman for District 6 in the early 2000s. He died in 2007. Cabello Havrda, who worked in the mayor’s office during Barrera’s time as a councilman, said he may be honored in different ways.
“We have city parks in District 6 we may be able to do, there’s also educational facilities we may be able to get named after him which I think is very much in keeping with his legacy as a teacher in Edgewood and an Edgewood ISD community member,” she said.
With the revision, the businesses will have to switch back, too. The change will require 181 businesses along the roadway to change their address. One of the largest organizations on the road is the San Antonio Food Bank. Michael Guerra, Chief Resource Officer for the food bank said it would be an expense.
“Hopefully there will be some public funds available for nonprofits like us to cover any expenses we have so that we don't need to take money that would otherwise help food for families facing hunger,” he told TPR via text message.
Previously, organizations like the Westside Development Corporation had provided some small grants to businesses who were affected.. A spokesman for Cabello Havrda’s District 6 office said there was not any funding for businesses to change their signage or marketing earmarked from the city.