Santa Fe River Greenway (Santa Fe River Trail Phases 1-4), NM

Analyzing river conditions and address severe degradation of the channel

Project Overview


The County of Santa Fe, in cooperation with the City of Santa Fe, has been investing in stabilizing and restoring the Santa Fe River Corridor. Once a thriving riparian environment, the river had become a dumping ground for construction debris, scrap materials, and yard waste. The corridor is undergoing a tremendous transformation through stabilization of the riverbed, revegetation with native trees and plants, and construction of a multi-use concrete trail surface.

Supported by a team of local subconsultants ranging from geomorphologists to public involvement specialists, Weston worked alongside USACE to analyze river conditions and address severe degradation of the channel to enable development of a key stretch of the long-sought Santa Fe River Trail following an extensive public input process.

Development of the trail itself posed significant challenges because of limited right-of-way and the desire to preserve as much existing vegetation as possible. Weston solved the problem by specifying a green wall reinforced fill system, never before attempted in New Mexico, to support the trail without the need to excavate footings for large retaining walls that otherwise would have been required. Other environmentally sensitive features were the repurposing of discarded concrete slabs salvaged from the riverbed, which were used as terraced drainage outfall protection structures and as part of the design of several water harvesting catchments to collect off-site runoff. Construction of Phase 3 was completed for this river restoration and trail implementation project, extending 1.3 miles through a very constrained reach of the Santa Fe River from Camino Alire to Camino Carlos Rael.

Weston designed localized drainage features and river stabilization structures according to green infrastructure practices and backed by sound hydraulic engineering principals. We also mitigated and removed abandoned vehicles, construction debris, and concrete rubble. Weston designed the Phase 4 trail and river channel improvements in 2013; however, shortly afterwards, large storm events altered the river channel before construction could take place. At the request of the County, and with the assistance of Riverbend Engineering, Weston redesigned the Phase 4 segment using new topographic data. Several design adjustments were made to bank stabilization and grade control structures based on observations of the completed segments during those large storm events. Construction of Phase 4 was completed for this river restoration and trail implementation project, extending an additional 1.3 miles through a more open reach of the Santa Fe River from Camino Carlos Rael to the Siler Road bridge crossing.

Once the project had completed construction, a major storm event (1,000 year storm event) in July of 2018 damaged many of the recently installed river stabilization features. Weston worked closely with the County and the contractor to mitigate the damage and oversee reconstruction back to design requirements. This also required attending public meetings with County staff to present the extent and nature of the damage to local residents. The project is now complete and functioning effectively as stormwater travels down the revitalized river channel.

Residents of Santa Fe now have an accessible bike and pedestrian path along much of the Santa Fe River. The river restoration removed potential sources of water quality contamination and greatly improved the hydraulics and aesthetics of the river.