Maryvale's Grand Canal Trail will undergo improvements with new recreational areas, paved pathways, amenities and upgraded infrastructure coming for the neighborhood as part of a project designed by Phoenix in partnership with Salt River Project.
The improvements are part of the third phase of the Grand Canalscape Project, which will take place along the canal's dirt path from 47th to 75th avenues, bringing transformed spaces for the community to walk, bike, recreate and commute to nearby schools and entertainment venues.
The project's first two phases started in 2020 and were completed this year, bringing a new paved path and other infrastructure elements to the Grand Canal bank from Interstate 17 through the Phoenix-Tempe border at 56th Street.
Construction operations in Maryvale kicked off on Sept. 8 and are expected to be completed within a year, District 5 Councilmember Betty Guardado said.
"I see the inequities between certain parts of the city and Maryvale," Gaurdado said. "The city has done the shift in terms of helping and putting the resources into Maryvale. I think we're on our way, but it takes being committed to the area to be willing to push."
Guardado said her office brought up the idea of phase 3 of the project to the city in 2019, after receiving input from neighborhood leaders and schools in the area who wanted to see improved areas along the canal.
"One of the first ribbon cuttings that I attended was at Xavier College Preparatory, at the canalscape that's there, and seeing what was happening there was what triggered me to go to the street department and say, 'Hey, why can't we do this in Maryvale?'" Guardado said.
Additions coming for the area include paved pathways for bicycles and pedestrians along the north bank; signalized crossings and improved lighting where the trail crosses city streets; beautified spaces with public art and landscaping; new fitness stations, trash cans, and seating areas; a new pedestrian bridge and improved neighborhood connections between schools, churches, parks and businesses adjacent to the canal.
Guardado said she believes the community will mostly benefit from a safer area and free physical activity options after the project has been completed.
"If you drive in that area at night right now, it doesn't feel safe," Guardado said. "I think the canal is going to bring trust back in the community, it's going to make people feel more welcomed, that they're being listened to, and that they're finally going to start getting a lot of the resources that other sides of Phoenix get."
The project was financed by Phoenix and the SRP beautification funds. SRP oversees 181 miles of canals, and cities along these canals can access beautification funding.
Bryanna McHenry, SRP construction consultant, said the primary focus of the project is improving neighborhood connectivity.
"It is for folks to be able to connect from the community to the Grand Canal, if they're looking to commute to work, or they're looking to just have a recreational amenity available," she said.
McHenry also said the project could potentially undergo new phases in the future as SRP and the city coordinate efforts with other organizations.
"Right now, this is where they're at, just because of funding. I know they're hoping to continue, I just don't know when that would be," McHenry said.
According to Guardado, there are similar projects coming up for Maryvale in terms of neighborhood maintenance and beautification of outdoor spaces, including street pavements, increased access to quality food options, and tree plantings in the neighborhood.
"I think the canalscape is going to be one of our gems in terms of being able to activate the canal and getting people to walk and exercise, and being able to proud of the area that they live in," she said.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Phoenix's Maryvale district gets upgrade along Grand Canal