December 5, 2022

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automotive

San Antonio mayor says no to Elon Musk’s transportation proposal

Mayor Ron Nirenberg also addresses the city’s Symphony strike in some of his first public comments on the issue.

DALLAS — If the San Antonio Mayor has his way, there will be no electric-powered Teslas traveling 30-feet underneath the city anytime in the near future.

“We have a lot of transportation issues that we want to solve here in Texas and in San Antonio, frankly. That doesn’t solve any of them,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said on Inside Texas Politics.

“That” is a proposal by Elon Musk’s The Boring Company to build a transportation tunnel from San Antonio International Airport to downtown.  

And the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority has an agreement with the company to study the feasibility of such a project. The Boring Company would use Tesla vehicles to take people back and forth along the nine-mile route. The cost could reach nearly $300 million.

But Nirenberg says he wouldn’t support the project.

“What I have seen after exploring the boring tunnel concept, again, doesn’t suit any of the priorities we’re trying to achieve in transportation,” he reiterated.

In an interview that touched on many topics, the mayor also told Inside Texas Politics the city is starting to see and feel an economic bounce back after two-years of pandemic shutdowns. 

The annual Fiesta San Antonio celebration just ended after being canceled in 2020 and severely scaled back last year. 

And the mayor says look no further than the airport for more signs of recovery. 

“Things are back. The traffic in the downtown area is as intense as it was pre-pandemic. In our airport, our visitor traffic is up dramatically. In fact, we’re up 60% in international travelers compared with 2019,” said Nirenberg.

But visitors returning to the city will have to do without the San Antonio Symphony. Its musicians have been on strike for more than six months demanding higher salaries and health insurance.  

The issue is currently in federal mediation. Until that resolution is determined, Nirenberg says there’s not a lot else the city can do to provide additional support.

“San Antonio is the seventh largest city in the United States. And arts and culture are the foundation of our community. We need a full-sized, well paid symphony orchestra in this city,” Nirenberg said.

The mayor is also expecting the city to see an increased number of migrants once the Title 42 border policy ends, currently scheduled to happen on May 23.  

The policy has been in place since March 2020, used to deny entry, or expel migrants, because of pandemic-related health concerns.

Nirenberg says those numbers have already gone up slightly. And the city is coordinating with the federal government and non-profits to help those migrants. 

He says more federal resources need to be sent to the border and cities like San Antonio to help assist with the flow of people.

“We’ve met with ICE, Border Patrol, federal agencies involved, DHS, as of last week, to let them know what we’re seeing, let us hear what they’re anticipating so that we can all stay coordinated. So, I think they’re taking this seriously,” he said.