Phoenix, SRP to celebrate Grand Canalscape opening
The award-winning Grand Canalscape project, a 12-mile multi-use trail stretching from the I-17 freeway to the Tempe border, will mark its completion Saturday with a public grand celebration from 10 a.m. to noon. The free ceremonial grand opening will be held along the Grand Canal north bank from just east of Central Avenue between Central High School and Brophy College Preparatory Academy.
The Grand Canal will be alive with activity and entertainment when Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and City Council members host the Grand Canalscape kickoff event, which will feature sponsored entertainment and food and will include a variety of interactive activities along the one-mile stretch of the canal from 9th Avenue to 7th Street in Phoenix.
Previously, the dirt path sat mostly unused for anything other than Salt River Project canal maintenance work. Today, the Grand Canalscape is an attractive, lighted and landscaped route for bicycle and pedestrian use. The Grand Canal arcs across Phoenix, providing an efficient route for bicycle and pedestrian commuters and provides important connections to bus and light rail lines, as well as the region’s growing pedestrian and bicycle network.
The Grand Canalscape is fully ADA accessible and features new pedestrian bridges, new traffic signals to allow safe road crossings, artist-designed shade structures and seating areas. Along the path, there are 17 connections to neighborhoods for easy access on and off the canal.
“This project is a great example of the longstanding partnership between the City of Phoenix and Salt River Project,” said Kini Knudson, Street Transportation director for the city, which managed the construction project. “SRP has been a superb partner every step of the way, sharing the city’s goal to improve connectivity by introducing this amazing new recreational asset to our residents and visitors.”
SRP, the largest provider of water and power to the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, manages the U.S. Reclamation canal system in the Valley. The Grand Canal was developed in the 1870s to bring water from the Salt and Verde rivers to the arid Salt River Valley region. It is the oldest remaining pioneer canal on the north side of the Salt River.
“The completion of both phases of the Grand Canalscape project – the single-largest multiuse segment on SRP’s canal system – enhances connectivity to the Valley’s canal bank recreation system,” said Jim Duncan, manager of SRP’s Field Consulting Services. “Now, Valley residents will have the ability to walk, run or bike from the I-17 freeway in Phoenix to Tempe Town Lake and connect to other trails along the way.”
Canal multiple-use developments such as the Grand Canalscape are a growing trend in the Valley and currently more than 80 miles of multi-use trails have been developed on the canal banks. SRP has allowed licensed recreational use of the canal banks since 1964 when the first recreational use agreement was signed by Maricopa County for the Sun Circle trail, a multi-purpose trail that circles the Valley following nearly 68 miles of canal. Since then, other cities have constructed paved and lighted bike paths, bankside landscaping and public art features.
Grand Canalscape was built in two phases that were completed in November and January. The first phase of the project was completed in partnership with the SRP Aesthetics Program. The second phase was made possible through the TIGER grant and the SRP Aesthetics Program. TIGER stands for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery and the USDOT awarded $10.3 million for the project.
The Grand Canalscape project recently won the Build Arizona award from the Association of General Contractors’ Arizona chapter. Build Arizona awards recognize excellence in project management, contribution to the community, sensitivity to the environment, innovation in construction techniques and a commitment to safety.
“This ambitious city project is complete now,” Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said. “People are surprised when I tell them that Phoenix has more canal miles than Venice or Amsterdam. Today we are integrating the canals into our communities to improve neighborhood access, add new public art spaces and contribute to a healthier Phoenix by introducing them as a recreational amenity.”
SRP is a community-based, not-for-profit public power utility and the largest provider of electricity in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, serving more than 1 million customers. SRP is also the metropolitan area’s largest supplier of water, delivering about 800,000 acre-feet annually to municipal, urban and agricultural water users.