Pima County is delighted to note two events this month that bring a wonderful new amenity to residents throughout the region and especially to Northwest communities.
Because of county funds authorized by our voters, the availability of federal flood control monies and long-term partnerships with Marana, Oro Valley and the cities of Tucson and South Tucson, the dedicated bike/pedestrian path known as The Loop is nearly 50 percent complete. It has already become a powerful magnet for those seeking healthy outdoor recreation.
For example, this Saturday, Oct. 8, the Pima County Department of Transportation is partnering with the Northwest YMCA, 7770 N. Shannon Road, for Family Bike Day. The event, from 9 to 11 a.m., teaches young riders how to stay safe and also encourages families to participate in the Launch the Loop event on Oct. 22.
Families attending the “Y” event will be able to get bike-safety checks, test their skills on a bike rodeo obstacle course, and take a guided bike tour of the Cañada del Oro Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Park (one of the County’s links to The Loop). Kids who participate in the bike rodeo receive free bike helmets.
The official opening of The Loop, with the participation of officials from Pima County, Marana, Oro Valley and the City of Tucson, will be held Oct. 22 at 10 a.m. on West Sunset Road, near the frontage road west of Interstate 10. To get free T-shirts, water bottles, backpacks and safety gear while supplies last, register between 7:30 and 9:30 a.m. at:
• Crossroads at Silverbell Park, 7548 N. Silverbell Road in Marana,
• Flowing Wells District Park, 5510 N. Shannon Road, or
• Christopher Columbus Park, West Camino del Cerro.
The Loop will eventually extend 55 car-free miles around the Tucson metropolitan area, but nearly half of it is already constructed and in use by families every weekend.
The sections already in use extend along the Santa Cruz River Park from downtown Tucson to Marana’s Crossroads at Silverbell Park. At the confluence of the Santa Cruz and Rillito rivers, the path goes east under Interstate 10 and the railroad tracks, and connects to the Rillito River Park, which extends to Craycroft Road.
Just north of the Rillito, a link to The Loop flanks the Cañada del Oro Wash and extends all the way to Oro Valley, slightly west of Catalina State Park.
Two relatively short sections of the path through the Cañada del Oro Wash will likely be completed in about a year. One section extends from the Cañada del Oro Wash westward under the railroad tracks near the Santa Cruz River. Once the underpass is complete, the CDO path will go west to the Santa Cruz path and north around the County Ina Road Treatment Plant to provide a route for cyclists and walkers all the way through Marana.
The second incomplete section connects the path along the CDO from La Cholla Boulevard to La Cañada Drive. The County is now acquiring land through that area and we are optimistic the path will be completed in approximately 18 months.
Later this year and next, the Santa Cruz paths will be extended south of 29th Street and connect to the Julian Greenway though South Tucson.
In 2012, we hope to complete the Julian paths to and through the UA Science and Technology Park at Rita Road and the interstate, making the loop more than 80 percent complete.
If the amount of use already visible along The Loop is any indication, this new amenity will emerge as one of the most popular places for Pima County residents to spend time exercising outdoors, not just today, but for generations to come. The success of this regional project
is a model for what can be accomplished through the collaborative efforts of Pima County, Marana, Oro Valley and the cities of Tucson and South Tucson.
We are proud these improvements have connected people and communities throughout our region. There has never been a better time to enjoy the beautiful Sonoran Desert and reap the benefits of health and fitness.