Historic Arkansas Riverwalk expansion project in Pueblo gets underway this week

An artist's rendering shows a manmade waterway lined by trees and flowers leading to a modern style three level building
Pueblo Riverwalk
An artist’s rendering of the plans to expand the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk in downtown Pueblo.

Work to expand the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk in downtown Pueblo is breaking ground Thursday, June 6, according to an announcement by the HARP Authority which oversees the urban waterfront park.

Rendering from above of a manmade waterway that ends in a cul de sac shape with pathways and trees around it and a three story building on the horizon
Pueblo Riverwalk
A rendering of the planned expansion of the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk in Pueblo, as well as a new boathouse on the east end of the existing channel.

The nearly $16 million project will extend the riverwalk park and channel east toward Santa Fe Drive. Plans also call for a new multi-level boat house with an open-air rooftop event space and additional public amenities. The building will also house equipment, boats, and office space. Paving, landscaping, electrical and lighting are included in the project. 

a modern brown and tan three story building with a curved roofline and large windows is adjacent to the manmade river channel and pedestrian walkways
Pueblo Riverwalk
A rendering of the new boathouse planned for the east end of the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk in Pueblo.

Pedestrians will be routed away from the construction site, but the rest of the existing 32-acre riverwalk area will remain open and summer activities will go on as planned. The expansion is expected to take about two years to complete.

Funding for the project includes $9 million from Pueblo County’s Ballot Initiative 1A coffers, a $1 million from Colorado’s Department of Local Affairs grant and a $1 million match from the City of Pueblo. Additional funds are coming from the Pueblo Economic Development Corporation’s half cent sales tax fund and from Pueblo Urban Renewal Authority.

a couple of people walk  along a manmade waterway that passes  under a bridge and has paths on either side. A group of about half a dozen people take a selfie on the other side of the water
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Pueblo’s Riverwalk on Wednesday, May 26, 2021. The Riverwalk grew out an area of the city destroyed the Arkansas River when it flooded in 1921. In the aftermath, the city redirected the Arkansas around the city to the south.

The Historic Arkansas Riverwalk follows the original channel of the Arkansas River prior to the catastrophic 1921 flood that destroyed much of the city’s main business district and more. After the flood, engineers moved the river further from downtown and built a massive levee to protect the city. The former riverbed was neglected for many years until Puebloans decided to reclaim it and turn it into an attractive public space.

Pueblo Riverwalk
A group of people walk along part of the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk in Pueblo.

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to reflect the accurate day, Thursday, June 6.