Tempe Town Lake is Arizona's second-most visited public attraction. The more than 2-mile long lake was created by damming a portion of the dry Salt River and adding water. Today, the lake continues to act like a river to convey rainwater and snow run-off by lowering the dam when needed and raising it again to maintain the water within the lake.
Tempe Town Lake is located in the heart of Tempe, running from west of McClintock Road to east of Priest Road between Rio Salado Parkway and Curry Road. A system of paths allow people to walk, jog, bike and more along its edges. It's also a great place for electric, wind and human-powered boats.
In March 1989, Tempe adopted the Rio Salado Master Plan which represented the culmination of more than 20 years of environmental land planning. Studies of water quality and usage, the Mill Avenue Bridges and ASU recreation ensued and programming began. A groundbreaking ceremony near Tempe Beach Park marked the beginning of construction of the river channelization. The Rio Salado Master Plan showed a Town Lake concept with a continuous body of water between the north and south shores. Previously, the lake concept included islands; this concept was modified to meet the flow capacity of the river channel.
In 1995, the City added more staff to the team dedicated to the Rio Salado project and began construction of a mile long bike path along the south bank of the river. The path features public art at a number of spots along the way. The city began the Town Lake design report and completed another financial capacity study and landscape designs for portions of the parks. The next year, the consultant completed construction drawings for the Tempe Town Lake and the City designated 800 acres of area including the lake as Rio Salado Park. On March 19, 1997, requests for bids were sent out for the lake construction. The city awarded contacts for construction of the lake on June 12, and groundbreaking ceremonies were held on August 8.
Water from the Central Arizona Project (CAP) started flowing into Tempe Town Lake on June 2, 1999, and by July 14, the lake was declared full. On November 7, Tempe Town Lake was opened to the public.
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