Sinema Discusses Latest in Advancing the Rio Reimagined Initiative, Announces New Leadership

Aug 11, 2023

Senator convened leaders involved in the Rio Reimagined Initiative to announce new ASU & local leadership and discuss her bipartisan legislation supporting the project

TEMPE – Continuing the late Arizona Senator John McCain’s legacy, Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema held a roundtable with local stakeholders to discuss her efforts advancing the Rio Reimagined initiative to revitalize communities along the Salt and Gila Rivers. The Senator announced funding for a new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated Project Ambassador, a new Senior Director at Arizona State University, and a new nonprofit – all of which will focus on building and providing support for the community. The Senator also announced that she secured an additional $600,000 for the EPA’s Urban Waters Federal Partnership program in the funding package that the Senate Appropriations Committee passed recently.

The Rio Reimagined initiative was added to the EPA’s Urban Waters Federal Partnership Program in September 2020. Earlier this year, Sinema introduced the bipartisan Urban Waters Federal Partnership Act to support the Rio Reimagined initiative by authorizing the Urban Waters Federal Partnership program.

“Once complete, the Rio Reimagined initiative will reconnect urban communities, improve our water systems, and strengthen local economies – achieving Senator McCain’s vision for the river corridor. We’re confident that, with our dedicated leadership at the table, we can get this done,” said Sinema. 

“In keeping with ASU’s commitment to support the economic, social, cultural, and overall health of the communities it serves, we remain committed to working alongside fellow corridor champions to further advance the initiative’s goals and applaud the important work Senator Sinema, local leadership, and partners have done to further the regional revitalization of river communities,” said Wellington “Duke” Reiter, Executive Director, ASU University City Exchange.

During the roundtable, Sinema spoke with local leaders and community members about the status of the initiative and her efforts to implement funding she’s secured and build bipartisan support for her bill.

The Rio Reimagined initiative was created to restore and strengthen more than 55 miles along the Salt River and Gila River – which go through Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Avondale, Goodyear, and Buckeye, as well as the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community and the Gila River Indian Community. 

For years, Sinema has worked to build support both in Arizona and Washington for the initiative. The Senator’s collaboration helped advance plans to identify and move projects forward that take advantage of metro Phoenix’s rapid growth and reinvigorate communities along the banks of the rivers.

Sinema’s Urban Waters Federal Partnership Act provides federal staffing support to ensure coordination between the federal government and local communities to lead the Rio Reimagined initiative and to restore and strengthen ecosystems along the Salt River and Gila River. The bill would reconnect urban communities, particularly those overburdened or economically impacted, with their waterways by improving coordination among federal agencies.

Last year, Sinema announced a $25 million investment in the Rio Reimagined initiative made possible by her bipartisan infrastructure law – the historic infrastructure and jobs bill Sinema authored, negotiated, and led into law. The $25 million RAISE Grant constructs a bicycle and pedestrian bridge across the Rio Salado River along the 3rd Street alignment, and adds low-emitting solar pedestrian-scale lighting and pathway amenities between Central Avenue and 40th Street along a trail that highlights an existing portion of the river corridor and landscape restoration project