Grant could pave way for sidewalk on E San Antonio Street
By Miles Smith
The third floor of Lockhart’s public library on Tuesday night was filled with downtown business owners who showed up to express support for a plan that would widen a walkway on the north end of East San Antonio Street while preserving the number of parking spaces and improving storm drainage.
The plan has been talked about for the last five years, but the Texas Department of Transportation applying for a Capital Area Metropolitan Organization grant to complete the project could finally push it through.
Council passed a resolution Thursday in support of the grant, and, following public comment on Tuesday night, passed another on Tuesday night that they would “proceed with confidence.”
The sketch unveiled on Tuesday night resolved a previous part of the plan that many had been concerned about: a switch to parallel parking. But the new plan includes a total of 30 parking spaces, including handicapped spaces, by having cars park at a 45 degree angle.
“Even with the widened sidewalk, the cars will only stick out 2.5 feet farther,” said Lockhart City Planner Dan Gibson.
The CAMPO grant would likely allocate a little over $1 million for the project. The city would be responsible for all portions of the project pertaining to plumbing and drainage, but City Manager Vance Rodgers said the city had funding available for that portion.
The project might have to go back to the drawing board if TxDOT’s grant application fails, but Lockhart Mayor Lew White said he didn’t think that was going to happen.
“TxDOT carries a pretty big stick in matters like this, and they said they would help push it through,” White said.
Under the plan, the sidewalk at the north end of San Antonio Street would curve outward and would be 30 feet from the edge of the buildings to the curb at its widest point, allowing space for planters that would be watered with a city-run irrigation system. On the North end of the courthouse square, the sidewalk will appear to curve inward, making the stretch of San Antonio Street between Main and Commerce move at an angle that slightly narrows the roadway and shortens the distance from each curb for pedestrians to cross.
The project also includes improving drainage to route rainfall under the streets to the sewer, where it will dump out into the creek, essentially making more parking spaces available during rainstorms.
White said he’d largely called Tuesday night’s meeting to get feedback from business owners who hadn’t been around five years ago when they’d started the ball rolling. Since the projects were first discussed, the downtown has taken on an entirely new look, with a wide variety of shops and eateries opening their doors.
“I want to get public feedback about what we’re doing for the square,” he said.
While business owners expressed mostly support, concerns/suggestions included replacing yield signs with stop signs to minimize the chance for collisions, and a wish for the widening to occur on East Market Street rather than East San Antonio Street.
Lockhart Bistro owner Parind Vora led off the chorus of business owners who expressed support.
“My only concern in the beginning was with the parking – I was afraid it was going to be more difficult for people coming in and out,” he said. “But I feel like it’s a good idea for two reasons. One, if you wait around for the perfect thing to happen, it never happens. Maybe that’s why I’m still single.
“And we’re getting a lot of new development. I’m seeing new people inside the restaurant as well as outside of it. San Marcos has a bad pedestrian area, and it’s an area that appeals to college students. We’re creating an atmosphere for people with families and younger children. It’s an area that needs to be comfortable for adults, young professionals and seniors.
“As long as communication stays open, then I’m all for this.”