Trail Innovations in the Desert Southwest

Next-Generation” Urban Trails in Tucson, and Restoration of one of America’s “Most Endangered” Rivers in Santa Fe

This session discusses community expectations and public involvement in trail development.


Speakers: Rory Renfro, Associate, Alta Planning and Design; Robert Oberdorfer, Senior Landscape Architect, Weston Solutions Inc.

In Tucson, the Pima Association of Governments, in partnership with the University of Arizona and other organizations/agencies, recently completed a pedestrian, bicycle, and trails master plan for the U of A campus. Extremely high community expectations demanded that this effort be results-driven, have an effective community and stakeholder engagement strategy, include policies to clearly guide on-the-ground implementation, and provide a clearly-defined roadmap for putting the plan into action. The resulting effort includes robust infrastructure and programmatic elements, several of which are now under construction.

In Santa Fe, public desire for a trail along the Santa Fe River led to a concurrent restoration project of the river itself. The river seemed a logical location for development of a trail to meet that desire. Due to the sensitive nature of the corridor, the environmental bent of the mayor, and the strong opinions of many of the neighbors, an extensive public involvement process drove the design work. Special features of the trail included a “greenwall” reinforced, vegetated, earthen retaining wall system to support the trail, as well as stabilization of the adjacent river bed using bioengineering techniques that were essentially untried on a project of this magnitude.

View Tucson Presentation Online

View Santa Fe Presentation Online