What are the RIO’s geographic boundaries?
Initial planning boundaries for Rio Reimagined extend approximately 55+ east/west miles of the Salt and Gila River corridor in central Arizona, and encompass 78,000+ acres extending from State Route-85 to Granite Reef Dam. At this time, the study area is defined as one to two miles from both banks of the river, which creates a substantive and diverse planning and programming scope for stakeholders. While this is an initiative with substantive opportunities for leveraged outcomes at regional scale, each river community maintains its jurisdiction, control, and self-determination in their respective reach of the river corridor.
What exists in the river today?
Over the past four decades, Valley communities, with many local, state, and federal government agencies and nongovernmental organizations, have engaged in efforts to revitalize the Rio Salado and its watershed. The cities of Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa have invested in parks, bike paths, bridges, river improvements, and other projects. Previous planning and revitalization efforts include six U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects focused on flood control, ecological restoration, and recreation: the El Rio Watercourse Master Plan, Tres Rios Habitat Restoration and Wetlands, Rio Salado Oeste, Rio Salado Phoenix, Rio Salado Tempe and Rio Salado Mesa. Some of these projects have been successfully funded and implemented, while others are still in a planning phase.
One of the most notable of the projects implemented to date is the Tempe Town Lake which has contributed new or enhanced recreation and cultural amenities, public art, riparian habitat, economic development, tourism, employment, and housing to the Valley. Another significant environmental asset is the Tres Rios Environmental Restoration project which rehabilitated nearly 700 acres in and around the Salt River at 91st Avenue, restoring 52 acres of vital wetlands. It is the fourth largest constructed wetland in the U.S. and created significant riparian habitat that results in increased, ecotourism. The Tres Rios Wetlands project created a unique mutually beneficial relationship between the riparian habitat and an adjacent wastewater treatment plant serving several growing cities in the metro region.
Since 2018 when Rio Reimagined began, well over $2 million in federal and state funding has contributed to a wide variety of projects in the corridor to address extreme heat, water quality, environmental education, river health, food insecurity, homelessness, fire reduction and habitat protection. Federal infrastructure funding for a pedestrian/bike bridge, regional active transportation priorities and municipal prioritization of land acquisition along the corridor are recent wins for RIO partners. This is just the beginning. Join our mailing list and/or get involved in an upcoming project or event in your river corridor.
Check out our Projects page for more information.
What are the primary objectives of a project master plan for the river corridor?
There is no current master planned design for Rio Reimagined as we are still in an early and major discovery and collaboration phase, which requires significant community input and engagement. Other river revitalization plans from urban communities across the country have integrated multiple and diverse objectives such as public open space, environmental and water quality, housing, transportation, economic development, workforce development, community health and resilience. Revitalization must include strategic and comprehensive public outreach and stakeholder engagement process. The initiative is a landmark opportunity to coalesce a grand, comprehensive vision for the corridor that embodies the future economic, social and environmental vitality of our communities as well as cultivates a progressive identity for our rivers and watershed. The following high-level principles are general working guidelines that will evolve with the community’s priorities:
- Establish a Multi-Jurisdictional Vision for the Future
- Reconnect the Community to the River & its Origin
- Restore the Value of the River & Adjacent Sites
- Feature Impactful & Instructive Sustainable Elements
- Build an Unprecedented Regional Destination
- Be a Catalyst for Economic Growth and Inclusion
- Establish the Highest Design Expectations