ADA COUNTY -- Sections of the Boise River Greenbelt across Ada County were destroyed when the Boise River spilled over its banks. Some minor repairs are already in the works, and the rest are set to start in a few months.
Sometimes it seems like ages ago. Other times - when you physically see the damage - it brings you right back. But the good news is, progress is being made.
"Everything but maybe half a mile of Greenbelt is open now," Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway said.
The eroded path under the East Parkcenter bridge in Boise is still closed. Serving as a stark reminder of the damage this spring's flooding caused, the Greenbelt pathway is also still closed under Veterans Memorial Parkway as it awaits repairs. Both sections of the damaged Greenbelt are among the city's primary areas of concern but also their highest priorities for repairs.
"We're waiting for the water level to continue to drop so that we can get in and get the bank restoration piece of that done. That has to be done first before we can actually repair the path that has pretty much three-quarters of the path in that section has been sloughed away and has actually fallen into the river," Holloway added. "We'll probably be gearing up for those repairs sometime in the mid to late fall."
Their goal is to have the entire Boise River Greenbelt and the river banks in the City of Boise pathway system restored by the middle of next spring. The city has set aside about $1.4 million already for repairs, but expects the fixes to cost more.
"It's probably going to be a couple million dollars, I'm guessing. Somewhere in that neighborhood," Holloway said. "We're preparing for the worst and we've set aside a number of projects we wanted to get done this summer that we'll be able to carry over and use that funding to get the work done."
The city will then create a scope of work for both the Veterans Memorial and Parkcenter areas to determine exactly what must be done and then send the projects out to bid to five contractors who are "ready to go".
But the plus side is, Holloway says, based on the amount of flooding we had, Boise's Greenbelt system actually faired pretty well.
"Some of those areas were under two to three feet of water for a significant amount of time so the fact that the concrete held up under that is really pretty amazing."
Same goes for Garden City and Eagle, city leaders there tell KTVB.
"The good news is that the damage we thought was happening wasn't as bad as we thought," City of Eagle public information officer Tammy Gordon said. "Our bank stabilization is the big part of what we're doing now."
Some of the Greenbelt in Eagle is still closed - mostly along the south channel of the Boise River, some sections along the south side of the north channel and other pieces of pathway are blocked off on the north side of the north channel as well.
"Nothing that's a big stretch of land. It's more sections," Gordon added. "Anything that was paved is compromised."
Their number-one priority is to work on the most heavily-trafficked areas of Eagle Greenbelt.
"And rebuild Riprap, start working on soil conditioning, build that back up again and not worry about paving it right now. We just want to get the connectivity so you're able to go from Garden City to Eagle and have that whole section taken care of," Gordon said. "We're hoping to get most of it in and down this fall just to have everything settle and prepare itself so then after next spring we can assess it again. It could be pretty bad again so we're gonna hold off on paving anything until next year."
Gordon says there should be enough bank restoration completed this winter that people can use the previously-paved sections of connected Greenbelt, but not in the form that they're used to.
"It'll be that primitive path. You'll be able to get on it you'll be able to walk on it but it won't be that smooth asphalt that we had in the past that was so lovely," she said. "It is still a little bit raggedy in some places, so as long as we're being safe we are very excited that we get to re-use our Greenbelt again."
The Eagle City Council approved $400,000 to be allocated specifically to recovering their Greenbelt system, but Gordon says they expect the construction to cost more than that.
In addition, after nearly half a year, Ada County re-opened a major section of their Greenbelt between Garden City and Eagle that was closed due to high river flows, dangerous pathway damage and flood fighting efforts. The segment is more than a mile and a half on the south side of the river between Glenwood Bridge and Eagle Road. where as you may recall, there were major concerns of a possible pit capture.
Talk is now shifting toward the possibility of taking on another flood fight.
"It's a learning process, so this coming year we're more prepared than we were last year," Gordon told KTVB.
"We're actually talking about what if this happens again, are there things we can be doing differently? Are there things we can prepare differently for? There really isn't a whole lot that we can do because it is what it is," Holloway said. "We'll be more prepared next year for what's hitting us but I don't know if that preparation has any impact on keeping the water off the Greenbelt because large sections of the Greenbelt were designed to hold flooding and move water into different areas of the city."
City and Ada County officials filed an application with FEMA and are awaiting a decision on whether their request is granted, because that would significantly aid in making county-wide repairs possible.
Meanwhile, the pathway across Plantation Island is still closed, a major connection for people who live in West Boise and Garden City, after dangerous erosion prompted the removal of the Plantation Island Bridge in April.
The Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands owns the bridge and the small section of Greenbelt but money isn't available to replace the bride or repair the path. So officials tell KTVB the hope is that their FEMA request will be granted in order to cover that.
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