Desipte the connection being official, a gate with a stop sign still greets cyclists before the connection.

The connection of the Santa Cruz and Rillito River paths that we wrote was “unofficially” connected is now “official” according to Pima County, who will host a celebration on Oct. 22.

In a press release issued last week, the county said the connection created a 23-mile continuous path that “connects to nearly 20 Tucson and Pima County parks and nearly 20 trailheads.”

The county says when the loop is completed 38 percent of the metropolitan population will live within one mile of it.

The October celebration will feature a dedication and several fun runs and rides ranging from two to 22 miles.

By the time the celebration occurs, the county says there will be even more paths to use.

“By October, the pathways along the Santa Cruz River Park will be complete from nearly Avra Valley Road on the north to Julian Wash Greenway south of 39th Street.  In addition, the river park along Cañada del Oro will be substantially complete from Thornydale Road to Catalina State Park.  The County will continue to make walking, biking and landscape improvements for the entire Loop, including closing any existing gaps.  Potential additions in the near future include extending the Santa Cruz River Park to the San Xavier Mission on the south and through Sanders Road in Marana on the north, and connecting the Pantano River Park to the Rillito River Park.”

Despite word that the connection is official, as of Monday, a gate with a stop sign is still in place when going under the interstate from the Rillito Path. There is a gap wide enough to go by on a bicycle, however.

If you missed it, be sure to check out the new two-phase crossing we wrote about yesterday.

12 thoughts on “Urban loop connection official; Celebration planned”
  1. Oh!

    That’s a stop sign! Looks like a graffiti sign…

    No doubt it will be cleaned by Oct. 22.

  2. Will Julian Wash Greenway be completed or extended by then? I can catch part of the Greenway now but it isn’t connected to anything. 

    Santa Cruz Bikeway has been connected to a crosswalk at Irvington; I noticed it the other day. It makes a lot more sense that way because before you had to play Frogger to get across the street there. Thanks powers that be! I vote to raise Tom Thivener’s debt ceiling! Woot! 🙂

  3. I need to get over there and see if they are building new path on the Santa Cruz between29th and Ajo.   I hope, I hope, I hope…

  4. Rode over there tonight and didn’t see any work or signs of work on a path south of 29th.  I don’t know how they’ll have it done by October, but I hope they do.

  5. A few more thoughts on this.  I was on the Rillito path next to I-10 on Thursday and I didn’t see any signs of work on the slated bike path bridge across the Rillito.  That’s another section that I hope they can finish before October but don’t see how.  They will also need to build a bike bridge across the Canada del Oro.  I haven’t been up there to see if any work is being done on that so I can’t say.  Again, I really, really hope that all the things listed in the announcement will get done in time.
    Also, I am THRILLED! to hear that the county wants to run the Santa Cruz path to the San Xavier mission.  I used to ride there a lot and think that a bike path to it would be a huge tourist draw for the mission and for the city of Tucson.  I’m not Catholic, so I don’t have a bias that way, but the mission is really the only historic building in the Tucson area with that caliber of age and architectural significance.  I want to give big kudos to the folks who are planning these paths.  I think they will actually have a financial return on investment in addition to the improvement they will bring to our quality of life. 

  6. Hi 3Wheeler,

    I proposed to ADOT to reconfigure the frontage road bridges at the Rillito and at the CDO so that we could stripe in a 2-way shared use path on the west side of the bridges, separate it from the roadway with a concrete jersey barrier, and then still stripe in a 6-foot paved shoulder on the frontage road next to the barrier along with two 11-foot eastbound lanes (really, southbound through Tucson).

    ADOT’s been terrific and they’ve approved our plans and permit application. We’ll hope to start work on that within several weeks and are crossing our fingers that we’ll be done before Oct. 22nd. Also we’re working with the Town of Marana on connections up to the Town with a similar crossing to Camino del Cerro. It’s a tight timeline because both we and the Town have to build sections of pathway along with installing the crossing.

    Incidentally, the crossing at CdC and at Ina will be in place for some time with a longer-term goal of building underpasses. That may take several years to get sufficient funding together for those but we’ll keep after it.

    As to the extension south of 29th, that’s a major project that will take some time. Design work is underway but it also includes a lot of very expensive bank protection and underpasses at Ajo so we’ll have to have some patience. I believe it has most of the funding the project needs though so at least that’s good news.

    Also we’re looking at smoothing out underpasses at St. Mary’s, Speedway and Grant, plus of course taking out the gate in the photo (that may occur within 2 weeks) and repaving under the RR and I-10. We’re trying to wait a bit on the monsoons. Eventually we’d like to raise the path by about 2 feet under the RR over to I-10. Doesn’t sound like much but it would greatly reduce the amount of sand we get on the path during monsoons.

    Hope this helps some and please let me know if you have any other questions. A lot of things underway right now throughout the whole Loop riverpark system.

  7. Thanks much for the information, Matt!

    Let me restate what I think you said:

    A)  Instead of dedicated bike/ped bridges over the Rillito and the Canada del Oro washes, there will be two-way bike/ped lanes installed on the existing east bound I-10 frontage road bridges with concrete barrier between us and the cars.
    B) The existing bridges over the Santa Cruz at Camino del Cerro Rd. and Ina Rd. will get a similar treatment as the frontage road bridges.
    C) The Ina Rd. bridge will be used when the Town of Marana gets the path installed that connects the existing path systems.
    D) Long term goal is to get pathway routed under the Camino del Cerro bridge and at the Ina bridge, so peds & cyclists won’t have to cross those streets at grade-level.
    E) The county’s press release that the Santa Cruz path will be connected to the Julien Wash path by October 22 is incorrect, and it won’t happen for…? a couple of years?  I wish the 29th/Ajo section wasn’t so challenging & expensive, it’s a critical section in the system and one that will greatly help the folks who live on the far SW side of town. I know you folks are doing all that can done and I thank you all for it.
    F) There will be improvements made to sections of paths that go under certain bridges.
    If I got something wrong, please let me know.

    That’s a lot of very good news, Matt!  Thanks again, and have a good weekend.

  8. You pretty much nailed it 3Wheeler. On item B) I’m not certain that Ina will get the same treatment as the frontage bridges but I’ll look into it. In order to get in a 2-stage “pelican” crossing (in this case we’ll need one on each side of the bridge), the existing striped shoulders may have to be narrowed from about 11 feet to 6 feet on the north and south sides of the road, allowing the roadway to be restriped with a 10-foot center area.

    Since our path is located east of the bridge and Marana’s is west, cyclists heading northbound would cross on the east side of the bridge to the north side of the road and ride the shoulders to the west side of the bridge where they would continue north on Marana’s path. Cyclists heading southbound would cross at a crossing located on the west side of the bridge and then head east. This is the tentative concept at this time so I’ll work with our staff and Marana staff to see what actually results.

    On item E) I’ll look into that as well. Possibly there was a mistake in the press release but there’s so much happening on The Loop and it’s happening so fast that there may be some interim connections in the works.

    Hope you have a great weekend too! So far a nice 70-miler following Mission/Conti/Nogy with some really beautiful views, and tomorrow a 30-miler reconnaissance ride on some Loop sections.

  9. Thanks, Matt.  I believe I have it now.  Please keep us all posted on what you learn about item E).
    I’m hoping to get out to ride the new section of path on Julien wash East of Kolb.  I took a peek at it from my car the other day, it looks great. 

  10. Thanks, Matt.  I believe I have it now.  Please keep us all posted on what you learn about item E).
    I’m hoping to get out to ride the new section of path on Julien wash East of Kolb.  I took a peek at it from my car the other day, it looks great. 

  11. Thanks for the info. I’m looking forward to using the path! Keep us posted on the celebration.

  12. it’s too bad the area around kolb between tanque verde down to broadway has been neglected.

    i’m on speedway/kolb and i can’t even get up to tanque verde. i have to walk my bike down the wash to get to the other side.

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