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Bexar County To River Authority: Avoid Future San Pedro Creek Project Cost Overruns

Photo by San Antonio River Authority

Two Bexar County commissioners directed the San Antonio River Authority this week to avoid future cost overruns on the San Pedro Creek Culture Park project.

The county is paying for the creek and creek side improvements from I-35 and Santa Rosa in the north to the confluence of the Alazan and Apache Creeks to the south.

The river authority, or SARA, reported the west side of downtown was being transformed and so was the creek.

The project is labor intensive and expensive. There have been street closures, bridge demolition, utility relocations and even archaeological finds, according to SARA.

SARA's initial estimate to county commissioners in 2013 was $180 million for the entire project.

Commissioners have already committed that, and it's only halfway done.

So commissioners voted to delay further action on a $300,000 art project called Creek Lines for a couple of months.

Commissioner Kevin Wolff said he would prefer the project move ahead on "have to haves" and not "nice to haves."

Commissioner Tommy Calvert added the project's price could make dubious history.

"This could have the distinction of being the most cost overrun project of any governmental entity in the history of Bexar County.

Suzanne Scott, the river authority's general manager, assured commissioners that things are under control.

"We did come up with a cost estimate, but that was high level, very preliminary. We've learned a lot as we moved into this project, and we've gotten very clear direction from this court to make sure we can save money as we go forward."

The river authority reported the project will pay for itself many times over in the future, spurring $1.5 billion in economic growth and adding 1,400 new downtown employees. It will also lead to more than 2,000 new housing units and $227 million in new property tax revenues.

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at brian@tpr.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian