GARDEN CITY -- Swift waters tore through parts of the Greenbelt connecting a pedestrian bridge behind Les Bois Park to Plantation Island. Now, Ada County is planning to remove that bridge for public safety reasons.
Because rapid flows have continued to erode the heavily-traveled pathway on the south bridge on Plantation Island, officials say they are concerned about it breaking loose and toppling into the river, causing serious hazards. On Monday, crews will be removing the Plantation Island Bridge to protect the public.
There have been concerns over this bridge for more than a month. It has been closed to the public since late February, along with the entire section of the Greenbelt on Plantation Island, connecting the south side of the Boise River in Garden City to the north side in Boise.
"We didn't want to take any chances," director of the Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands, Judy Peavey-Derr, told KTVB. "You can't be safe enough and protect the public when you've got water pouring by."
The instability is causing major concerns for Ada County officials and the Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands, which owns the Plantation Island portion of the Greenbelt.
"We asked, we begged, we said we've got a situation where this bridge and its footing may go," Peavey-Derr said.
If that happens, and the bridge breaks free, it could block river flows or move downstream, jamming up against the Glenwood Bridge.
"Then we would have immense problems," Peavey-Derr added.
The potential for destruction and flooding could be huge, so Monday afternoon Inland Crane of Boise will remove the south bridge and relocate it to the Expo Idaho property next door, according to Ada County Public Information Officer Kate McGwire.
Peavey-Derr says the foundation is grateful that so many agencies are helping them resolve this issue, and that Ada County declared a state of disaster on Thursday.
"If they hadn't stepped up to give us the funds to hire the crane to get in there and remove the bridge, we could have had a potential disaster," Peavey-Derr added.
The bridges connecting Plantation Island to the rest of the Greenbelt have been in place since around 1990, thanks to a generous donation.
"We got Ron Yanke, who has since passed, to build these bridges for us to extend the path system - the Greenbelt - so we could carry on in time for the centennial in 1990 to connect with Eagle Island State Park. So he generously built those and donated them to what was then the Boise River Trail Foundation," Peavey-Derr said.
Folks who walk, run or bike on this section of the Greenbelt know it can be vital for connectivity.
"We recognize it's going to be an inconvenience for a while. All we can do is say, 'please be patient with us until the water recedes enough for us to get in there and fix it'," Peavey-Derr said.
Not only is that a matter of when, but how: Peavey-Derr says the foundation will have to raise money to be able to repair the path and replace the bridge. Still, she's hopeful.
"We'll get it fixed, folks," she added.
The river is expected to stay at these swift, record-breaking levels for at least the next six weeks, thus, county officials say this section of the Greenbelt is closed indefinitely.
They also want to remind you to respect all closures and follow the posted detours. If repairs end up relying on donations, you can donate on the Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands website.
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