BOISE -- After a long wait, cyclists, joggers and dog-walkers will be allowed back into previously blocked areas of Boise's Greenbelt Wednesday.
The City of Boise is reopening much of the Greenbelt after assessing all 25 miles of pathway.
"Our commuters have been seriously inconvenienced and we recognize that," said Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway. "And certainly, with the warmer weather and holiday season coming up there will be a lot of recreational use as well, so the timing couldn’t be any better to have the analysis done and the Greenbelt back open."
Safety concerns forced Boise to close down all but 11 miles earlier this year as the abnormally-high river surged over the Greenbelt, leading to erosion and pathway damage in some areas. At its peak, the river reached flows of 9,500 cubic feet per second, well above the floodstage mark of 7,000 cfs. By Wednesday afternoon, river flows had fallen to 4,300 cfs.
Employees from Public Works and the Parks and Recreation departments inspected the entire length of the Greenbelt last week, inspecting the path and riverbanks for damage and checking on the stability of trees in the formerly flooded areas.
Five sections of the Greenbelt will remain closed until the damage can be repaired. The off-limit areas still have issues including downed trees, standing water, and erosion damage.
"We are now in the phase of determining what type of scope of work needs to be put in place, and once we determine the scope we can figure out what costs are involved," said Holloway.
The City has put aside $1.4 million for repairs, although the final cost of fixing the damage is unknown. The closed areas are listed below:
- Part of the Greenbelt path through Marianne Williams Park in Southeast Boise
- The entire Bethine Church River Trail near the Cottonwood Apartments in Southeast Boise
- The south side of the Greenbelt underneath the W. Parkcenter Boulevard Bridge to Loggers Creek
- The north side of the Greenbelt near Veteran’s Memorial Park
- A section of the north side of the Greenbelt that connects Esther Simplot Park to Veteran’s Memorial Pond
The public is asked to stay out of these areas until they are officially reopened. To see a map of the closed and open areas, click here.
“We continue to ask Greenbelt users to obey all posted signs and stay out of closed and fenced off areas for safety reasons,” said Holloway. “Dangerous conditions still exist in some areas because of trees with roots undermined by the water, as well as bank and pathway stability concerns. Please be alert and aware of your surroundings when traveling on all paths.”
According to the Boise Fire Department, the “Dangerous River Condition” remains in effect. People and pets are urged to stay out of the river.
Aside from assessing flooding hazards that affect Greenbelt users, engineers also put in an enormous amount of effort into protecting the SunRoc Gravel Pit south of Eagle Island from a pit capture.
An effort that has so far paid off.
"I would say the potential for a pit capture is pretty low," said Angela Gilman, a flood engineer for Ada County.
Three different types of barriers, stretching one mile long were put in place as protection. Gilman anticipates breaking down at least part of it next week.
"Those were absolutely critical in this event," she said. "If we had not put in all of those measures, I would say that is very highly likely that we would have had a pit capture."