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Old Posted Apr 12, 2007, 5:32 AM
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sirkingwilliam sirkingwilliam is online now
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Riverwalk Expansion (Museum Reach) Finally A Go!

Contract awarded to extend River Walk

Web Posted: 04/11/2007 11:39 PM CDT

Ron Wilson

The extension of the San Antonio River Walk upstream to a museum district took a giant leap forward Wednesday with the awarding of a $49.8 million contract for construction that is scheduled to begin next month.

The San Antonio River Authority approved the contract, which was awarded to Zachry Construction Corp. Final approval to proceed is expected to come today with City Council approval of the final funding arrangement for the $68.2 million project.

The agreement calls for the city to issue debt for an additional $18 million needed for construction. The river authority will provide $1.5 million a year in maintenance and operating costs starting in 2009.

The Bexar County Commissioners Court gave its approval Tuesday. The city, county, river authority and San Antonio River Foundation will fund the project, and the authority will manage it.

"Today's actions bring the much-anticipated northward expansion of the River Walk one step closer to reality," said Louis Rowe, chairman of the river authority board.

"Once completed, the Museum Reach Urban Segment (from Lexington to Josephine Street) will forever alter the downtown landscape and greatly expand the enjoyment, beauty and economic development potential" of the river, Rowe said.

Added Suzanne Scott, assistant general manager of the river authority, "This is a milestone we've been looking forward to for many, many years."

Hailed as one of the biggest public works projects in county history, the Museum Reach project could yield as much as $1 billion in benefits by generating new businesses, new jobs, more tourism and higher tax revenues, Scott said.

A dam and lock system to be located at Brooklyn Avenue will raise and lower boats and barges 8 feet, allowing them to ply the river all the way to the museum district.

Another feature will be the addition of marshes and wetlands to enhance wildlife habitat.

The environmental component will tie into plans for the Mission Reach segment, which calls for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to restore the river to its natural state south of downtown along Mission Parkway.

When both reaches are completed, the river will flow through a 13-mile linear park that connects many of San Antonio's rich cultural and historic venues. The end result will be a single public space stretching from the museums and urban wetlands in the north to the Spanish missions in the south.

County Judge Nelson Wolff led county commissioners in praising the project Tuesday, saying, "This is the most important project going on in this community. It will pay dividends to generations."

Though years in the planning, the project hit a snag in recent months as the local construction industry heated up, raising costs. But the new funding arrangement was worked out with the city, Scott said, and the project remains on schedule.

However, the new plan means landscaping and work on the Roy Smith Street Bridge will be contracted at a later time with funds already allocated.

Scott said the Museum Reach project, which will take about two years to finish, will not alter the level of the river downtown nor reduce downstream flows. '

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Old Posted Apr 12, 2007, 6:50 PM
Jeeper Jeeper is offline
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I just hope the extension doesn't get overrun with more franchise restaurants. That is my one complaint about the Riverwalk. It's a local gem that's crowded with the same old chain restaurants and stores.
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Old Posted Apr 12, 2007, 7:06 PM
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sakyle04 sakyle04 is offline
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Something around 40% of the restaurants are chains...

That's not bad at all, considering what you find in Times Square in NY, on Michigan Ave in Chicago, etc...

(Not that Riverwalk comes close from a traffic volume standpoint, but you understand the comparison in the sense that they are all highly visible tourist destinations.)

Big companies have the money to throw at such places (I think there are 2 TGI Fridays in Times Square) and they serve almost as advertising as well.
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