Spotlight On: Tomika Monterville, Director, City of San Antonio Transportation Department

Spotlight On: Tomika Monterville, Director, City of San Antonio Transportation Department

2021-11-05T12:09:02+00:00November 5th, 2021|San Antonio, Spotlight On, Transportation|

City of San Antonio Transportation Department2 min read November 2021 — The purpose of San Antonio’s Transportation Department is to create a safe, equitable, and multimodal transportation system for all people in San Antonio. In an interview with Invest:, Director Tomika Monterville discussed the reasons for creating the department, top priorities from a transportation perspective at this time and her outlook.

What pushed San Antonio to create its Department of Transportation?

The past 17 months have provided an opportunity for cities to reset their priorities. The city recognized that for many years we’ve had a department focused on building and maintaining our infrastructure but as transportation began to change, leadership wanted to create a department that was specifically dedicated to mobility. Transportation is the post office of the millennium. There is always work in transportation, no matter the mode or line of business. 

What makes San Antonio a great climate for business?

The beautiful thing about San Antonio is that as we grow, we grow diversely. That is what is going to make San Antonio relevant in future conversations relating to growth and business. We are also Military City, USA. All of the best and brightest are trained here, from the medical industry to cybersecurity. Many of those people stay in San Antonio because of the quality of life and job opportunities. This is a great city to start your life or to retire.

What are your top priorities at this time? 

One of the most important projects we’re working on right now is an update of our 2011 Bicycle Master Plan. One of the things that many cities are experiencing is a tremendous increase in the number of people using their bikes. One of the great opportunities we have now is to integrate the Howard W. Peak Trail network into our Bicycle Master Plan and our network of bicycle facilities. Most people look at trails for recreational uses but what we know from this pandemic is that people are using their bikes to get to work. For many people in our communities, using a bike is not recreational but a priority and a necessity because they can’t afford the cost of owning a vehicle or using transit.

The second thing we’re working on is safety. Many cities have adopted the Vision Zero®  program, which is a national program focused on eliminating crash fatalities among cyclists and pedestrians. One of the things we found during the pandemic is that despite the reduced number of automobiles on the road, we still had an increase in the number of fatalities and injuries. With people working remotely, there were fewer people on the road which led people to drive faster because there was less traffic and congestion on the roadways.

How is the department approaching the city’s rapid growth?

Like many cities, San Antonio has a land use plan that lays out how development will look moving forward. Several years ago, the city adopted the SA Tomorrow Comprehensive Plan. This includes three programs: the comprehensive plan, the sustainability plan and a multi-model transportation plan. As a new Transportation Department, we are not reinventing the wheel. Our approach is to follow and build upon these vetted plans and programs. The community tells us how they want to live and it’s important that our department follows those desires, which are present in these plans. It is not our place to decide what growth looks like moving forward but it is our responsibility to foster these conversations with the community and let residents decide how they want to move forward.

What is your outlook for the Transportation Department and the evolution of transportation?

The future’s so bright that we have to wear shades. That’s how I feel about this department. Over the next five years, we’re going to update our multi-modal plan and dive deeper into conversations about autonomous technologies and vehicles. We need to understand the minimal infrastructure that is required to support the evolution of transportation. Technology and mobility move forward very quickly. During the time of planning a new system or service, it’s possible for that system or service to become obsolete. We want to work collaboratively with our partner departments to make sure we’re not wasting resources. Our focus is establishing a strong foundation, building the skillsets of our team members and preparing this department to do amazing things. 

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