TUCSON, Ariz. - Members of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District were on hand Nov. 2 for a dedication ceremony of the Arroyo Chico Tucson Arroyo Project Phase II B Park Ave. Basins.
To open the ceremony, two local children led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance. Before LA District Commander Col. Mark Toy spoke, he thanked the two children and acknowledged the students who had come from the Highlands Free School near the site of the ceremony. Each of the students gathered came to the front and Toy led them in a round of in-place marching. He said it was great to lead a unit like that again.
“It’s really exciting to be here,” said Toy. “It’s not often that I get to see a project go from inception to completion.”
Toy thanked Hunter Contracting Co., the District’s contractor, and talked about the history of the project. In 2010, using a continuing contract clause, the Corps awarded the construction of Phase II B, which consists of the final three basins. The Corps also awarded Phase III channel improvements, and Phase IV High School Wash confluence improvements. Within the Fiscal Year 2010 appropriation cycle, The LA District received funds allowing for construction of Basins two and three. In the FY11 work plan, the Corps received funds allowing for construction of Basin one. The ribbon cutting ceremony for Phase II B was for Basins one, two and three.
“This is a project that will make a difference for a lot of people,” said Ramón Valadez, Pima County Board of Supervisors chairman. “Most of us understand how important the Army Corps of Engineers is to this project and it wouldn’t have happened without them.”
The project provides flood risk management in the area and it is also an ecosystem restoration project. The project runs along the Tucson Arroyo in the Arroyo Chico watershed. Among the project’s many improvements are 1.33 miles of paved multi-use pathways, more than half an acre of turf areas for recreation and culverts connecting the basins with enough room for passage by people.
“It’s a great example of the federal government partnering with local government,” said Brandon Bragato, senior legislative assistant for Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva. “I’d like to congratulate everyone involved.”
The dedication ceremony marks the latest success in a project that has been in the works for some time. In 1990, Insurance Study maps identified significant flooding problems in several areas, including Tucson Arroyo and Arroyo Chico Wash, which drain through central and downtown Tucson. Before Pima County completed construction of the Randolph Golf Course detention basin complex in 1996, some areas of the city were flooded as frequently as once every two years.
“I know it took a while to get where we are today; but, I appreciate everyone’s patience and determination,” Toy said. “Now, we have a project that will last a long time and will benefit generations to come.”
Other representatives from the City of Tucson and Pima County spoke of the project’s importance to the neighborhood and the residents. The completed project will provide protection to property, structures and the environment. More than 1,300 residential, multi-family, commercial and industrial structures are now out of the FEMA 100-year floodplain. The completed project will also provide protection to 16 acres of active Union-Pacific railroad track and nearly five miles of major streets – including the I-10 corridor. And, it will provide protection to Tucson’s future with the proposed Tucson Modern Streetcar TIGER Grant.
“I am proud of the members of my team who worked tirelessly to take this from an idea to the reality here today to benefit the community,” Toy said. “We look forward to strengthening our partnerships and we look forward to continuing projects, like the Tucson Area Drainage project, that will benefit the American people throughout our District. We look forward to being able to sustain our dedication to ‘Building Strong and Taking Care of People!’”