John McCain’s final project: 45-mile development of dry Salt River bed

The initial public presentation of the Rio Salado Project took place on March 9., 1967 in the ASU Memorial Union. The presentation boards show the overall master plan, plus the overall topographical model of the 40-mile proposed development concept. / Source: ASU Archives 


By Jessica Boehm | Arizona Republic

About a month after he was diagnosed with a deadly form of brain cancer, Sen. John McCain shared with a group of Arizona State University students an ambitious plan to restore the dry Salt River bed that crisscrosses the Valley.

A century ago, dams dried up the portion of the river that cut across the Phoenix area, leaving a jagged scar in its place.

McCain wanted to bring life back to the riverbed with a project that could rival or even surpass the famous San Antonio Riverwalk and could be one of the most significant environmental and economic additions in Phoenix history.

It was one of McCain’s final initiatives — one that he knew wouldn’t be accomplished before his death, but one he hoped would leave a lasting legacy on his adopted home state of Arizona.


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