Pima County has started construction on a piece of the Rillito River path which has long been considered a missing link for cyclists who use the path.
Once complete, a 10-foot wide path will replace the rutted dirt on the north side of the river between Hacienda del Sol and Country Club. It is scheduled to be completed sometime in June. (Check the interactive map below)
That section of the path has been left unpaved for years because of drainage issues and has prevented cyclists from being able to ride the north side from La Cholla to Country Club without having to ride on the dirt or attempt to navigate the Campbell Avenue bridge.
Matt Zoll, Pima County’s bicycle and pedestrian program manager, said the county’s goal for the entire river park system is to provide a paved path with a dirt path next to it, but this section isn’t wide enough for that.
In order to provide both a paved and dirt path, Zoll said they will have to push back the large walls of dirt and acquire several pieces of property, which is cost-prohibitive given the $415,000 budget from the RTA, but is still the county’s goal in the long term.
Because of the construction on the north side of the path, the county has decided to delay the start of the paving project on the south side of the Rillito between Campbell and Mountain Avenues.
The reason for the delay was to allow people to use the south side of the Rillito rather than have to use the Campbell Avenue bridge to cross back to the north side.
Nanette Slusser, the Pima County assistant county administrator, said it is something they have been discussing at length.
“We’ve got pros and cons,” Slusser said. “Everybody seems to be very passionate about what we do.”
She said they would likely have a decision next week.
Zoll said if the signs are removed they will have to work to keep it safe.
“The only thing that I really cautioned is that we’ve got to make sure we slow people way the heck down,” Zoll said.
Zoll said they have also been working with the city to improve the Campbell Avenue bridge for cyclists.
He said several options have been discussed, but they haven’t identified a solution yet.
Tom Thivener, the City of Tucson’s bicycle and pedestrian program manager said the city has a grant to study engineering options for long-term improvements to the bridge, but they haven’t found any short-term fixes.
“There is really no quick engineering solution,” Thivener said. “It is a tough nut to crunch.”
The county is also currently building a new paved section of path on the south side of the Rillito between Mountain and First Avenue. Lauren Harvey, the project manager for the project, said that project should be completed in June.
Click on each colored line for more info about the project.
View Rillito Projects in a larger map