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Paseo de las Iglesias Phase I

Santa Cruz River Bank Protection, Ecosystem Restoration, and Linear Parkway, Ajo Way to Silverlake Road

Project status:  Project construction was completed in May 2015.  The river park is now open for use!  

Paseo Park, post constructionThe Paseo de las Iglesias project was approved by the voters as part of the 2004 Bond Election for erosion control along the banks of the Santa Cruz River from Ajo Way to Silverlake Road.  The Bond provided $14 million dollars and laid out the goals of the project as flood control improvements, ecosystem restoration and construction of river park facilities.  The project added 2.7 miles of paved pathway (16’ wide) and 2.2 miles of decomposed granite pathway (8’ wide). 

The Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail is also along the west bank of the Santa Cruz River, which commemorates the 1775-1776 expedition. Interpretive signage throughout the project covers the topics of prehistoric, historic, ecosystem restoration, Padre Kino, and Anza Trail.  Three parking areas were constructed within the project; the west side paved parking area with restroom, ramada and seating, the east side paved parking and ramada, and the west side equestrian staging area with dirt parking and mounting block. 

With the assistance of the Tucson Pima Arts Council, public artist Andy Dufford of Chevo Studios (Colorado) was selected. He created the entry monument adjacent to the restrooms and decorative gable in the northwest ramada. Las Artes, a local Arts and Education center, created the Padre Kino and Anza themed tile mural at the restroom. 

Over 10,300 new native trees, shrubs and cacti were added to this approximately 400 acre project area.  The majority of these plants were grown by the Pima County Native Plant Nursery.  Erosion Protection within Paseo de las Iglesias included 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.  Early in the construction period, headcutting erosion along the Santa Cruz River was repaired A primary focus of the ecosystem restoration work was improvements 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. These improvements included increased watershed collection area, extensive bosque plantings and a deeper pool constructed for a more ideal breeding area.  As of May 2015, this project is completed and open to the public.

Awards and Press

AwardsDeirdre Brosnihan and Larry Robison accept awards from ACEC on behalf of the District.

  • February 2017 - The Paseo de las Iglesias Project wins a National Merit award from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC).
  • March 30, 2016 - The Paseo de las Iglesias Project wins an award from the Southern Arizona Branch of the American Public Works Association
  • 2016 - Metropolitan Pima Alliance Common Ground Award of Merit
  • 2016 - American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Arizona Grand Award

Press

Project Description

The Paseo de las Iglesias project was approved by the voters as part of the 2004 Bond Election for erosion control along the banks of the Santa Cruz River from Ajo Way to Silverlake Road.  The Bond provided $14 million dollars and laid out the goals of the project as flood control improvements, ecosystem restoration and construction of river park facilities.Tile mural at parking area This reach of the Santa Cruz River was previously 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).

This project expanded the Pima County Loop, as well as providing key missing connections on the Santa Cruz River and out to the Julian Greenway, through adding 2.7 miles of paved pathway (16’ wide) and 2.2 miles of decomposed granite pathway (8’ wide).  The Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail is also along the west bank of the Santa Cruz River, which commemorates the 1775-1776 expedition. Interpretive signage throughout the project covers the topics of prehistoric, historic, ecosystem restoration, Padre Kino, and Anza Trail.  Three parking areas were constructed within the project; the west side paved parking area with restroom, ramada and seating, the east side paved parking and ramada, and the west side equestrian staging area with dirt parking and mounting block. Parking lot, multi-use path and historic millstone With the assistance of the Tucson Pima Arts Council, public artist Andy Dufford of Chevo Studios (Colorado) was selected. He created the entry monument adjacent to the restrooms and decorative gable in the northwest ramada. Las Artes, a local Arts and Education center, created the Padre Kino and Anza themed tile mural at the restroom. 

Over 10,300 new native trees, shrubs and cacti were added to this approximately 400 acre project area.  The majority of these plants were grown by the Pima County Native Plant Nursery.  Irrigation methods utilized include permanent irrigation, temporary irrigation and Dri-water irrigation methods. The water source for permanent and temporary irrigation is reclaimed water. The plant pallet was comprised of native species local to this part of the Santa Cruz and also sustainable for current conditions.   Extensive water harvesting basins were constructed and preserve in place areas utilized for vegetation and habitat. 

A primary focus of the ecosystem restoration work was improvements 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. These improvements included increased watershed collection area, extensive bosque plantings and a deeper pool constructed for a more ideal breeding area.  Lizard and amphibian salvage was performed by Dr. Rosen from the University of Arizona. Dr. Rosen collected and monitored lizards in a fenced off area during construction and is now working on redistributing the animals throughout the site and repurposing the pen to a mortality prevention fence along Cottonwood Lane. Burrowing Owls that were onsite were relocated with assistance from Wild At Heart prior to the start of construction to an Arizona Game and Fish site.  Additional features constructed include special habitat structures such as lizard habitat rubble piles and raptor perches.

Erosion Protection within Paseo de las Iglesias included 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.  Early in the construction period, head-cutting erosion along the Santa Cruz River was repaired.  An individual Section 404 permit from the Army Corps of Engineers was obtained for this project and due to the extent of onsite mitigation; no additional mitigation was required by the Corps. 


Mesquite Circle Pond and bank protection.

The Paseo de las Iglesias project was a unique example of what sustainable urban infrastructure can look like.  After its completion, the project was recognized by multiple organization at the local, State and National level for awards. The awards include the APWA Southern Arizona Branch Public Works Project of the Year Environmental Project 2016 ($5-25 million category), APWA Arizona Public Works Project of the Year Structural Project 2016 ($5-25 million category), Arizona Forward Award of Merit, MPA Common Ground Award of Merit 2016, ACEC Arizona Grand Award 2016 and ACEC National Honors Award 2017. 

Project Updates

April 2017

Volunteers, Tucson Electric Power and Wild at Heart construct a tent to house eight Burrowing Owls being reintroduced to the Paseo de las Iglesias project site.

Volunteers construct artificial burrows to support the reintroduction of Burrowing Owls to the project site.February 2017

Volunteers, Tucson Electric Power and Wild at Heart construct artificial burrows in preparation for the reintroduction of eight Burrowing Owls to the Paseo de las Iglesias project site.

February 2017

The Paseo de las Iglesias Project wins a National Merit award from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC).

March 30, 2016

The Paseo de las Iglesias Project wins an award from the Southern Arizona Branch of the American Public Works Association

May 2, 2015

Paseo de las Iglesias Phase 1 is open!  Please walk and ride safely.

April 2015

The dedication ceremony for the latest section of The Loop shared-use path was held Saturday, May 2, 2015 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.  Please see the Dedication Ceremony Invitation, the Dedication Ceremony pamphlet and

November 2013:

Project construction began.

August 2013:

Temporary Julian Wash Connection - In order to expedite the connection of The Loop from Ajo Road to Julian Wash, a temporary connection for the Paseo de las Iglesias Phase 1 project has been constructed for use until the permanent alignment of Paseo de las Iglesias Phase 1 is completed. Traveling from north to south, the temporary Julian Wash Connection starts at the existing underpass on the east bank of the Santa Cruz River at Silverlake Road. The pathway then proceeds to the top of the bank and on to Santa Cruz Lane. On Santa Cruz Lane users will share the road heading south and turning east on 36th street, passing through Tucson Water’s gate across Santa Cruz Lane (per an agreement with Tucson Water to utilize Santa Cruz Lane). At the end of 36th street the pathway runs south in ADOT’s right of way (per permit from ADOT) until reaching the Julian Wash, where the pathway turns east to connect to The Loop. This temporary connection will be eliminated once the permanent connection is completed with the construction of Paseo de las Iglesias Phase I. Construction is expected to begin in October 2013 and be completed in approximately June 2015.

May 2013:

In early May, Solicitation for Qualifications #92775 was opened for Construction Management Services for Paseo de las Iglesias Phase 1. Final award is awaiting approval from the Pima County Board of Supervisors.

April 12, 2011:

In July 2010 the District issued a Solicitation for Qualification #1002439 for Paseo de las Iglesias Phase 1: Santa Cruz River Bank Protection, Ecosystem Restoration and Linear Parkway for Ajo Way to Silverlake Road project. A Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) in the project areaFive Statement of Qualifications were received and reviewed by the District’s review panel. The three overall highest scoring Statement of Qualifications (alphabetically listed: AECOM, Psomas and Stantec) were each invited back for an interview. The interviews were held in early September 2010. The scores from the interview were added to the Statement of Qualifications scores in order to determine the final ranking. The final ranking, which scored Psomas as the highest scoring team, went to the Board of Supervisors in October 2010 for their approval to begin contract negotiations. Upon receiving the Board of Supervisors approval the District entered negotiations with the Psomas design team. The Psomas design team is now under contract per the District received authorization to proceed on February 2, 2011. The Psomas team includes RECON, McGann and Associates Landscape Architects and Planners, EcoPlan Associates, Inc. and additional sub-consultants.

A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment has been completed in November 2010. A Cultural Resources Site Boundary Identification Testing is underway. New aerial imagery and topographic information has been collected and is now being processed and reviewed. Community Workshop meetings have been planned in collaboration with Pro-Neighborhoods and the Community Food Bank, to gather ideas for the future vision of this site’s amenities and focus. The Psomas design team has begun site investigations and vetting of the District’s Concept Report as part of their Feasibility Study prior to entering into the design process. The Psomas design team and District will have additional public meetings upon the completion of the Feasibility Study. A Call for Public Artist was posted in March 2011 to begin the interview process to contract with an artist for the site.

Project Design

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.

The Paseo de las Iglesias Phase 1 project has 3 main goals per the Bond:

  • River Park
  • Ecosystem Restoration
  • Erosion Protection
Below is a summary of each of the final amenities in each category to be constructed onsite.

 

River Park: The project will provide a 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.

Ecosystem Restoration: The project will provide 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.

Headcutting erosion along the Santa Cruz River prior to project constructionErosion Protection: The project will include 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.

Floodplain Mapping

Prior to the construction of the Paseo de las Iglesias river park and bank protection Pima County Regional Flood Control District (District) obtained conditional approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the proposed changes to the Regulatory Floodplain* and Floodway**. 

Now that the construction is complete, the District is required to remap both the Regulatory Floodplain and Floodway.   The post construction hydraulic analysis confirms all privately owned parcels have benefited from the increased channel capacity and bank protection.  The Regulatory Flood for the Santa Cruz River is contained within the channel, tributary channels or publicly owned property.  The Floodway essentially has the same footprint as the Santa Cruz River Regulatory Floodplain.  Linked below are maps that show the Regulatory Floodplain and Floodway changes as a result of the project. 

The FEMA floodplain map revision process can be confusing.  Please see the Paseo De Las Iglesias Phase 1 Floodplain Map Revision frequently asked questions brochure for more information.   If you have any additional questions about the floodplain mapping, please contact Terry Hendricks.  If you have questions regarding the Paseo de las Iglesias project, contact the project manager Deirdre Brosnihan.  Both may be reached at (520) 724-4600.

The maps below have clickable links that will take you to a more detailed map (PDF format).  The first set of maps show the FEMA floodplain and the second set of maps show the FEMA floodway.  Click within the map outlines to go to the map indicated.

FEMA Proposed Floodplain Delineation Map

Clickable image to detailed floodplain maps

FEMA Floodplain Map 1
FEMA Floodplain Map 2
FEMA Floodplain Map 3
FEMA Floodplain Map 4
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FEMA Proposed Floodway Delineation Map

Clickable image to detailed floodway maps


FEMA  floodway Map 1
FEMA  floodway Map 2
FEMA  floodway Map 3
FEMA  floodway Map 4
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*  The Regulatory Flood is the flood associated with a large storm event that has a 1% probability of occurring any given year.  It is often referred to as the 100-year flood. 
**  A "Regulatory Floodway" means the channel of a river or other watercourse and the adjacent land areas that must be reserved in order to discharge the base flood without cumulatively increasing the water surface elevation more than a designated height. Communities must regulate development in these floodways to ensure that there are no increases in upstream flood elevations.

FEMA Floodplain Map 1 FEMA Floodplain Map 2 FEMA Floodplain Map 3 FEMA Floodplain Map 4 FEMA Floodway Map 1 FEMA Floodway Map 2 FEMA Floodway Map 3 FEMA Floodway Map 4

Project Funding

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.

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.

Public Outreach

Over 25 people attended a neighborhood workshop April 28, 2011 at Sam Lena Library, 1607 S. Sixth Ave. to learn more about the Paseo de las Iglesias Phase 1 project, located along the banks the Santa Cruz River from Ajo Way to Silverlake Road. The project is funded by bond money approved by voters in 2004. Paseo de las Iglesias Phase I will provide bank protection, ecosystem restoration and river park improvements .

Preliminary project concept maps were distributed to participants at the neighborhood workshop to help them provide feedback to Pima County Regional Flood Control District on project design.


Attendees to the workshop also learned about a community garden planned for a parcel just south of Silverlake Road on the west bank of the Santa Cruz River. The community garden, referred to as the Southside Urban Farm. is being developed by the Community Food Bank and City High School.

A total of three public meetings have been held, and a fourth public meeting to introduce the contractor is tentatively scheduled for September 2013, prior to the start of construction.