How will you get to work in 2040?
Assuming that you will not be using Jetsons-style flying backpacks to soar from one elevated pod to another during your morning commute, the City of San Antonio this week will begin planning for how an estimated one million to one and a half million people, and more than a half million additional private vehicles, will be navigating the city's roads in the coming 25 years.
What is called the Strategic Multi Modal Transportation Plan is expected to get its first hearing before City Council tomorrow. From there comes two years of public comment before the plan is set to be finished in 2016.
"The Strategic Multi Modal Transportation Plan will be instrumental in helping San Antonio prepare for the future infrastructure needs of the community to accommodate projected growth of one million people and an associated 500,000 housing units and 500,000 jobs in Bexar County by 2040," the plan says.
Even though the plan has yet to be created, one thing is certain. There is no way that enough concrete can be added to existing highways to accommodate that kind of growth, so many of the holders of those half a million new jobs will be commuting in ways other than alone in their cars, which is the way about 98% of San Antonians drive to work today.
City planners say the city plan will 'complement the MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization) Long Range Regional Transportation Plan.
While that plan does include numerous improvements and additions to existing highways, both free roads and toll roads, it is heavy on encouraging alternative forms of transportation. Money is set aside for an expanded version of the controversial downtown streetcar plan, as well as what VIA Metro Transit facilities in all parts of the city.
The plan is also expected to include passenger trains, expanded bicycle and walking faculties.
One portion of the proposed plan which is certain to be controversial will be incentives to encourage people to move closer to their work, so less driving will be needed. The MPO plan includes several proposals, including encouraging housing development around 'nodes' of major employment, like encouraging USAA employees to live closer to USAA. Tax incentives would be used to encourage this.
The long range plan will also be heavy on plans to clean up the region's air quality, by encouraging the use of electric vehicles, hybrids, and cutting vehicle miles to maintain the region's shaky compliance with federal air quality regulations.