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Could San Antonio and Austin become a "combo loco" metro?

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San Antonio and Austin are two of the fastest growing cities in the United States. The Austin-San Antonio corridor is expected to add 4 million people by 2030, and it doesn’t take a great imagination to leap to prophecies that that the two cities will one day merge into one giant metroplex.

But the question is, will the two cities mix like oil and water or find a way to organically mend and move to increase local incomes and quality of life for the residents? With proper planning, investments and cooperation from the leaders of all the municipalities in the SA-Austin I-35 corridor there is the opportunity to create the model mega metro of the 21st century.

The strong economy in the region is a leading factor driving the growth in the Austin-San Antonio corridor. Both Austin and San Antonio are home to a number of Fortune 500 companies, and the unemployment rate in the corridor is below the national average.

Due to the high quality of life in the region, the area is attractive to the young creative class which is the employee that many employment hubs are seeking to recruit. The Austin-San Antonio corridor is known for its mild climate, its abundance of outdoor activities, and its vibrant culture.

Compared to the regions in the nation that would compete with an SA-Austin mega metro, the cost of living remains relatively affordable. While housing is expensive in Austin, San Antonio’s housing costs are much lower.

However, there are challenges that will need to be addressed as the Austin-San Antonio corridor grows. The 75-mile I-35 drive between the Alamo City and the Capitol City is unreliable with highway driving stalling for hours at times. A reliable public mass transportation link between San Antonio and Austin is necessary, and so far, efforts to create a rail service line between to the cities have spectacularly failed. The already present train track isn’t something that Union Pacific is willing to give up. And the development of a new rail track is prohibitively expensive.

Guest: Henry Cisneros is a former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and former mayor of San Antonio. He is the host of “San Antonio - Austin: The Emerging Mega-Metro” on KLRN-PBS.

Air dates and times on KLRN-PBS:

  • Thursday, July 13 at 7 p.m
  • Friday, July 21 at 10 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 23 at 2 p.m.
  • Friday, August 4 at 10:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, August 6 at 4 p.m.
  • Friday, August 25 4 a.m.

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 833-877-8255 or email thesource@tpr.org.

*This interview will be recorded on Tuesday, July 18.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi