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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

Study 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  

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.

Project Updates

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.

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.


The following maps are currently available:

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.