Portions of Greenbelt open as cities continue to assess damage

TREASURE VALLEY - Finally, the news many of us have been waiting for: Garden City is officially opening its portion of the Greenbelt Saturday morning!

Once the City of Boise announced they were opening much of their 25-mile stretch, we wanted to find out about the rest of the previously flooded pathway in Eagle and Garden City. Some of what we found out was positive, some was not.

MOREMost of Boise Greenbelt reopens as floodwaters recede

As of Thursday, the Boise River had dropped to nearly 3800 cubic feet per second, which is still more than double the average for this time of year.

The pathways through the City of Eagle are mostly closed, as there are a lot of areas that still need to be assessed.

Starting this weekend you will be able to hit the ground running, biking or walking on the Greenbelt in Garden City. Mayor John Evans tells KTVB crews will wrap up removing hazardous trees on Friday and then open the Greenbelt Saturday after months of it being shut down.

"We've done our assessment. We've found some areas we need to take some trees out. The pathway itself is in passable shape," Mayor Evans said. "Although people need to be very cautious because there are areas that are in need of repair."

Evans advises to be on the look out for debris on the pavement, as well as spots in need of repair which he says will be marked off with paint or caution tape.

"Don't expect a super highway when you're on the Greenbelt," he added. "We've done some preliminary assessment for structure, but some of that we can't even complete until there's no water on the pathway and until underlying material under the path stabilizes."

If you're walking or biking on the south side of the Boise River in Garden City, Evans says you won't be able to get through Ada County's section of the Greenbelt along the Sunroc gravel pit, where flood mitigation material is still in place. You are also unable to cross to the north side of the river via the Garden City pedestrian bridge because it's still blocked off.

"I think we survived really pretty well it looks like at this point as far as structurally," Evans added.

However, the same can't be said about the City of Eagle.

"The majority of our trails are closed," City of Eagle Communications Specialist Tammy Gordon said. "The majority of our trails are closed. We have two sections that are open right now and they were mainly not harmed by any of the waters as they rose so we felt it stable enough to re-open to the public."

Those two sections of the Greenbelt run from Eagle Road to Edgewood (the Edgewood Trail) and the paved path along State Highway 44 to Ballantyne Lane.

Gordon says emergency personnel and city staff can't even get to some of the unstable, eroded areas to check out the damage. They are still very concerned about the head of Eagle Island near the Sunroc gravel pit - where the original, main concern for flooding has been all along. They're also seeing an extensive amount of damage on the Greenbelt path along Mace neighborhood, on the south side of the north channel west of Eagle Road.

"If you can see water on both sides, it means the water had to get there somehow on both sides and that means it's very dangerous," Gordon added.

Eagle's trail system is more complex: There are a lot of trails on both the north and south side of both the north and south channels of the Boise River.

"We're looking at them every day," Gordon added. "When you're saying 'the Greenbelt is open, we only have trails that we can open. There's so many other things that go into place that we have to make sure all of them can be open before we say the Greenbelt is back open again."

Gordon says there will be sections of Eagle's paved and natural trails that are closed indefinitely.

"A lot of whitewater areas where our trails used to be washed away, so many of our natural trails, that it's just they're no longer there," she added. "There's just not enough hours in the day nor is there enough money in the budget to say this will get done in a year, even five years. I mean, this is going to be a continuous process for a really long time."

The City of Eagle has this active map online you can check out to see what sections of the path are open.

Eagle is estimating at least $700,000 in repairs for the first year, and they're asking FEMA to help out big time.
Garden City Mayor Evans says they are estimating at least $250,000 in repairs to the pathway.

City of Boise officials tell us they set aside more than $1 million from their capital fund budget in order to deal with repairs and other needs, but they're still determining the scope of the damage and cost of repairs.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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