The novelty of Ada County removing a bridge on the Boise River Greenbelt earlier this week may have obscured the significance of that structure.
The bridge that crossed one of the Plantation Islands in the Boise River provided a critical piece of connectivity for the bike and pedestrian path that serves as one of the Treasure Valley’s most popular recreation amenities, not to mention a safe route for many bicycle commuters.
“I don’t think people understand the weight of that happening,” said Scott Koberg, director of Ada County Parks and Waterways.
And there’s no quick fix. It’s unlikely the bridge can be replaced in the spot where it was before. The river likely will reclaim that area, Koberg said.
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“I don’t see it possible to get it fixed the right way until the river drops all the way to winter flows again because that island is so hard to get to,” Koberg said.
Most of the Greenbelt through Boise, Garden City and Eagle is closed because of Boise River flooding, local governments announced this week. The loss of the bridge won’t truly be felt until the path re-opens.
On the north side of the river, the westbound Greenbelt will dead-end where it previously crossed onto the island. The nearest river crossing is back at Veterans Memorial Parkway.
On the south side, the eastbound Greenbelt will dead-end near where the bridge used to be. Users can travel down Remington Street along the horse track and turn left on 52nd Street to get back to the Greenbelt.
That connection is close to one of the best parking areas for Greenbelt access on the east side of Glenwood at Marigold.
“There’s no other thru-way that doesn’t shoot you out into the neighborhoods,” Koberg said. “The island is a critical piece of real estate for connectivity.”
The Plantation Island crossing was added in 1990. The islands, which at one point were going to be part of Plantation Country Club’s golf course, are held in trust by the Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands. The bridges were donated by Yanke Machinery.
The bridge on the south side of the river became unstable during recent high flows on the Boise River. The river undercut the path connecting to the bridge.
“It’s a big question mark for the community and for all the agencies involved: What do we do?” said Jan Johns, the executive director of the Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands.
The 35,000-pound, 100-foot-long bridge has been moved to Western Idaho Fair property for now.