River Run Park brought to life a half mile section of the South Platte River by providing enhanced recreation, neighborhood connectivity and river health while maintaining flood protection. The park corridor runs along the river through the cities of Englewood and Sheridan, Colorado and has become a favorite destination for the community.
The channelization of this segment of the river addressed the historic flood of 1965, but adversely impacted the habitat, stream ecology and aesthetics of the corridor. Over the years, drop structures in the channelized river began to fail, causing erosion, stream degradation and unsafe river recreation. The site ties in with a popular multi-use trail (Mary Carter Greenway) that extends 20 miles along the South Platte on the western side of the river.
Through a partnership of Arapahoe County, City of Englewood, City of Sheridan, South Suburban Parks and Recreation, Colorado Water Conservation Board and Mile High Flood District, improvements were made to the park between 2016 and 2019 making it an important and cherished community asset.
The overall project vision was to create a unique regional park that celebrates the river. To do that, the team had to meet multi-objective goals that include:
- Improving river health by reshaping the active river channel to better replicate a natural stream system. By improving ecological functions and building resiliency into the system, the project built new wetland and riparian habitat, improved sediment transport, and enhanced aquatic organism movement and water quality.
- Maintaining 100-year flood conveyance
- Increasing trail connectivity and safety along the Mary Carter Greenway, alleviating heavy pedestrian and bicycle traffic. New hard and soft trail surfacing and grade separated trail crossings improves access throughout the corridor and to the river’s edge.
- Providing a unique regional multi-user recreational experience. The project reconstructed two large, existing drop structures and replaced them with six lower drop structures that include recreational features from wave shapers for surfing and kayaks to water shoots for kids play. Water users of all types, and people of all ages and abilities will have opportunity to interact with water. Because this is such a unique feature, terraced seating, access paths and trailhead facilities were designed to accommodate crowds of spectators who enjoy watching the surfing activity. This is a regional destination with broad appeal for community gatherings that engages users with the river, greenway trail and trailhead facilities.