Gateway to San Antonio’s West Side gets vibrant makeover with public art and green spaces

Gateway to West Side gets makeover with public art and green spaces

Zona Cultural District bridges
The gateway bridge underpass columns are getting a splash of locally inspired color. San Antonio Department of Arts & Culture/Facebook

The City of San Antonio has just launched a capital-improvements project that aims to enhance the Zona Cultural District and includes an array of upgrades ranging from widened sidewalks and new bike lanes to public art that enhances underpass columns at three gateway bridges.

The project, a collaboration between the San Antonio Department of Arts & Culture and the Public Works Department that kicked off this week, is meant to increase accessibility between downtown and San Antonio’s West Side, with improvements upgrading the western boundary of the Zona Cultural District, an area that includes many historic destinations between Main Plaza at the heart of the city and North Salado Street. 

Highlights of the project include adding gathering spaces, bike lanes, and pedestrian lighting, and widening sidewalks in the area with greca pattern paving to create spiral-like designs.

And key to the project is the public art component, which includes the painting of underpass columns at gateway bridges at Commerce, Buena Vista, and Guadalupe streets. The vibrant color palette for the underpasses — chosen by local artist Rubio — may look familiar to many San Antonians, as it references many hues found in the Virgin of Guadalupe statue located on the city’s West Side.

The full project is expected to be completed by 2023.

The project, which is part of the 2017-2022 bond program, was initially focused on the Commerce Street Bridge corridor, but District 5 City Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales, recognizing an opportunity to enhance the whole western boundary of the Zona Cultural District, secured more funding through a budget amendment to expand the project to include Buena Vista and Guadalupe streets.

“This is much more than simply a beautification project,” Gonzales says. “This infrastructure investment creates a vital connection between the West Side and downtown, which will benefit the residents who call this area home for generations. With colorful artwork that represents our community and enhanced walk, bike, and rideability of the area, not only will residents have better and safer access to get where they need to go, but visitors will feel a sense of welcome to patron businesses and see some of the city’s most historic and culturally significant sites — all located in the heart of the West Side.”