A major extension of the Pantano River Park is about half-finished and could be open by the end of the year.

Pima County is funding the $3.7 million project, and the city of Tucson will take over maintenance and operations when it's completed, said Bob Lutgendorf, program manager in the county's project management office.

"Trees for Tucson contributed $65,000 for the children's memorial garden," Lutgendorf said.

He noted these project details:

• Work began about six months ago, and "we're 50 to 60 percent finished."

• The project is scheduled for completion in December.

• The landscape architect is Olsson Associates, and the contractor is Norquay Construction.

WHERE

The new segment of the linear park, which traces the Pantano Wash, will extend 2.2 miles from Kenyon Drive southeast to Michael Perry Park. Kenyon Drive is north of 22nd Street, and Michael Perry Park is south of Golf Links Road.

THE LARGER CONTEXT

The new segment of the Pantano River Park will extend the park's length to more than seven miles, with more additions in the works, said Nanette Slusser, assistant county administrator.

She said the park is part of a developing "urban loop" park - including segments along the Rillito and Santa Cruz rivers and Julian Wash - that eventually will total 55 miles of pathways.

"The urban loop will be just wonderful for recreation, and it's going to be a great destination tourist attraction," Slusser said. "It's also used as an alternative transportation mode."

PARK FEATURES

Walkers, runners, cyclists and casual visitors will find new facilities that include:

• A 12-foot-wide asphalt path and an 8-foot-wide granite path to accommodate user preferences.

• Underpasses at 22nd Street and Golf Links Road so path users won't have to cross the streets.

• A children's memorial garden adjacent to Michael Perry Park. It will be a place for remembrances of deceased children.

• A tree memorial park, where people can buy trees in someone's honor.

• A plaza and picnic area with small ramadas on the banks of the wash near Michael Perry Park.

• A parking area and restroom facilities along the wash at 22nd Street.

Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at dkreutz@azstarnet.com or at 573-4192.