Pima County and City of Tucson officials joined with neighborhood residents on Wednesday, Nov. 13, to ceremoniously kick off construction of the first phase of a flood control, ecosystem restoration and park project along both sides of the Santa Cruz River from Silverlake Road to Ajo Way.
“It’s important to the City of Tucson the work that Pima County has done on the Santa Cruz River,” said City Councilwoman Regina Romero, Ward 1. “Pima County has had a wonderful vision of the investment they want to (make) in our community.”
The Paseo de las Iglesias project will:
- Add seven miles to The Loop shared-use path by connecting existing segments of the Santa Cruz River Park north of Silverlake and south of Ajo with the Julian Wash/Tucson Diversion Channel path.
- Stabilize the river banks to better protect neighboring properties and streets.
- Develop recreational opportunities for area residents and the greater community, along with ramadas, parking and restrooms.
- Provide water harvesting and plant 10,000 trees, shrubs and cactus to restore the river ecosystem that is home to nine unique and special interest toad and amphibian species, burrowing owl populations, and other native animals and plants.
The public is invited to learn more about the project at an open house on Monday, Nov. 18, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the safety conference room of the Pima County Department of Transportation building at 1313 S. Mission Road.
Paseo de las Iglesias – the path between the churches – refers to the area between Tucson’s historic Mission San Agustin and Mission San Xavier. The project will also connect existing improved segments of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail to create a 12-mile stretch from Drexel Road to El Camino del Cerro.
Pima County Supervisor Richard Elías, District 5, said that the project builds on a site where people have lived for 4,000 years to improve alternative transportation options and support community health and fitness. The project area includes the seven-acre Las Milpitas Community Farm, a food-production and education project of Pima County, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona and City High School.
Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said the project will be “a very significant addition” to the County’s river park and shared-use path system. About 120 miles are done, he said. When completed, The Loop will be 131 miles of contiguous pathways free from motorized vehicles.
The Loop already connects 41 major parks, Paseo del las Iglesias will be the 42nd, and “we hope to have 50-60 in the future,” he said.
Pima County voters approved $14 million for the project in the 2004 bond election. Construction is expected to take about 20 months.
“I think you’re going to be proud of this when it’s all done,” said Suzanne Shields, Director of the Pima County Regional Flood Control District.
For more information, please visit the Paseo de las Iglesias Phase One project online.