Paseo de las Iglesias Phase I: Santa Cruz River Bank Protection, Ecosystem Restoration, and Linear Parkway,
Ajo Way to Silverlake Road

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Project status:
Project design was completed in April 2013. The construction bid opened in September 2013. A final public meeting will be held once the Contractor is onboard in November 2013, final date TBD. Project construction is estimated to start in late 2013 or early 2014



Photograph of Santa Cruz River prior to project constructionThe Santa Cruz River from Ajo Way to Silverlake Road was selected and authorized for erosion control and ecosystem restoration improvements in the 2004 Bond Election. This reach of the Santa Cruz River was included as a segment of the Army Corps of Engineers Project, Santa Cruz River, Paseo de las Iglesias, Pima County, Arizona, Final Feasibility Study (July 2005). A later report, Paseo de las Iglesias Phase I Report was a collaborative report completed in February 2008 by Pima County Regional Flood Control District, CMG Drainage Engineering, Inc. and Novack Environmental, Inc. that integrated the elements from the earlier (2005) US Army Corps of Engineers Study with additional erosion control and ecosystem restoration concepts that contain recommendations for improvements specifically along Ajo Way to Silverlake Road section of the Santa Cruz River.

Funding Source:

The 2004 Bond Election authorized the “construction for flood control improvements and linear river park system improvements along the Santa Cruz River to link the existing improvements from Grant Road to 29th Street (Silverlake Road), and from Ajo Way south to Irvington Road to create a continuous 7 mile long river park system. Headcutting along the Santa Cruz River prior to project construciton This project will also join the Santa Cruz River park system to the Tucson Diversion Channel (Julian Wash) linear river trail system.” Key areas for flood protection mentioned in the Bond include the Ryland Landfill, and existing residences and businesses. Also mentioned in the 2004 Bond Election verbiage was ecosystem restoration and riparian habitat enhancement. The 2004 Bond Election allocates $14 million dollar. Additional funding remaining in the original Paseo de las Iglesias project will be utilized for Phase I. Additional funding would be provided by the Pima County Regional Flood Control District Tax Levy or with Federal credit.


The Regional Flood Control District first developed a Concept Report which outlines areas of concern and opportunity for the Santa Cruz River from Ajo Way to Silverlake Road and analyzed alternatives for bank protection integrated with an ecosystem restoration concept and linear parkway concept. 

Then working with our design team of Psomas, McGann and Associates and Recon and feedback from community meetings, the District brought the project from a Concept Report to final construction plans.

A burrowing owl standing on the bank of the Santa Criuz River

The Paseo de las Iglesias Phase 1 project has 3 main goals per the Bond: River Park, Ecosystem Restoration and Erosion Protection.  Below is a summary of each of the final amenities in each category to be constructed onsite.    
The project will provide river park pathway and amenities including 2.7 miles of paved pathway (16’ wide), 2.2 miles of DG pathway (8’ wide) and 10,305 new trees, shrubs and cacti irrigated using permanent irrigation, temporary irrigation and Dri-water irrigation methods.  The water sources will be reclaimed water.  With the construction of Paseo de las Iglesias the Loop will have an 8 mile continuous section on the Santa Cruz River.   Amenities will also include 3 parking areas; the west side paved parking area with restroom, ramada and seating, east side paved parking and ramada, and west side equestrian staging area with dirt parking and mounting block.

The project will provide ecosystem restoration element including a plant pallet comprised of native species local to this part of the Santa Cruz but also sustainable for current conditions, water harvesting basins, preserve in place areas for vegetation and habitat, and special habitat structures like lizard habitat and raptor perches. Additionally, Lizard and amphibian salvage to be performed by RFCD though subcontract to Dr. Rosen at U of A. RFCD contracted with Dr. Rosen to collect and monitor lizards in a fenced off area off Cottonwood Lane south of the Community Garden.   The fence has been constructed by Dr. Rosen and lizard catching is in progress. Other amphibians will also be salvaged for later release.  This will be treated as a do not disturb area during construction.    The focus of the restoration work will be improvement to Mesquite Circle Pond which is home to 9 unique and special interest native species and one of the jewels of urban Tucson herpetological community. 

The project will provide erosion protection including 1.4 miles of new soil cement bank protection, 0.4 miles of gabion bank protection, and additional methods such as rip rap, rock plating and terracing. 
In addition to the decorative elements designed by the landscape architect there will be Public Art elements.  With the assistance of the Tucson Pima Arts Council, we selected public artist Andy Dufford.  He has been working on an entry monument and ramada for the project site.  We have also been working with Las Artes, a local Arts and Education center, on a tile mural at the restroom.   

During the design process our individual Section 404 permit was obtained from the Army Corps of Engineers, cultural resources mitigation was performed and letter of clearance issued from SHPO, Intergovernmental Agreement obtained with from the City of Tucson regarding property within the project area and permits with ADOT applied for. A cultural resources/archeological Phase I, Class III study was completed. The study was conducted to the current standard and determined the extent of archeological resources on site. Based on the results from the study a mitigation plan was created to determine and plan for the extent of the impacts of the project and the necessary remediation. Additionally, a goal of the project is to create signage for a segment the proposed pathway to represent the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail along the west bank of the Santa Cruz River that commemorates the 1775-1776 expedition and the historic Paseo de las Iglesias Trail.


We opened the construction bid in September 2013 and anticipate beginning construction in late 2013/ early 2014. The construction time frame is estimated at 20 months.  Check back on the website for updates on key milestones and construction schedule. 


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