Workers are wrapping up a key link in The Loop - an interconnected web of multiuse trails around Tucson.
"We have finished one of the corners - places where river parks touch each other," said Nanette Slusser, assistant county administrator for Pima County, which is overseeing work on the trails. "This one is where the Santa Cruz River Park and the Julian Wash Greenway connect" near Interstate 19 and Ajo Way.
"It's the first real connection of the two," Slusser said, but she noted the route still has a few "on-street" passages and needs some environmental restoration work.
Ramón Valadez, chairman of the Pima County Board of Supervisors, called the new connection "a wonderful addition."
"This allows people throughout our community to enjoy cycling and other non-motorized travel" over several connected segments of The Loop, Valadez said. "It's great for people to be able to do that in a safe manner - getting from one place to another or just enjoying the outdoors."
This most recent linkage brings the total length of The Loop - which is open to pedestrians, cyclists, skaters and horseback riders - to about 100 miles.
"It will be 131 miles when it's complete," including several spur routes extending from the main route looping around the city, Slusser said.
NATURE AND HISTORY
The area near the junction of the two trail segments includes a shady park and sites once occupied by ancient Indians.
"It's pretty along here with the mesquite trees," said Susie Hathaway, who took a walk recently along the Julian Wash Greenway southeast of that path's connection with the path in Santa Cruz River Park. "There's also a lot of history in this area."
Part of that history includes an area near Julian Wash that has been set aside as an archaeological park. It's on a site where prehistoric people known today as the Hohokam lived.
Another stretch of trail in the area passes through the Carmelin Castro Itom Usim Children's Park, along Julian Wash east of I-19.
"It's shady and beautiful through that little park," Slusser said.
WORK TO BE FINISHED
The area of the connection is still in need of some follow-up work, Slusser said. For example, the trail crosses streets at some points along the route.
"We don't want the trail to touch roadways" when that can be avoided, Slusser said. "We want to keep it all off-road. We'll get that fixed eventually."
Possible solutions, used elsewhere along The Loop, involve routing the trail under streets.
Slusser said plans also call for restoring the natural appearance of some sections of the route.
"We've got the connection, but now we'll do the environmental restoration projects," she said. "We'll try to bring back the shade canopy in there."
On StarNet: See more photos of The Loop trail at azstarnet.com/gallery
See a map of The Loop trail and pieces of it that are underway on Page A4.
"This allows people throughout our community to enjoy cycling and other non-motorized travel."
Ramón Valadez, chairman of the Pima County Board of Supervisors
loop trail etiquette
• All trail users yield to people with disabilities.
• Bicyclists yield to all other users.
• Control your speed and be prepared to stop.
• Keep to the right of the trail. Save the left for passing.
• Always announce your intentions when passing.
• When in a group, travel single file and don't block the trail.
• Keep pets under control and leashed.
Source: Pima County
Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz