Boise & Garden City

Tunnel vision: Boise closing Greenbelt gap in West End

Boise firm Concrete Placing Company is digging a tunnel under Main Street just east of Joe’s Crab Shack as part of a new section of the Boise River Greenbelt project.
Boise firm Concrete Placing Company is digging a tunnel under Main Street just east of Joe’s Crab Shack as part of a new section of the Boise River Greenbelt project. sberg@IdahoStatesman.com

By early next fall, paved pathways will run on both sides of the river from one end of Boise to the other.

That’s the city of Boise’s plan, anyway. Esther Simplot Park, under construction south of State Street and west of Whitewater Park Boulevard, is scheduled for completion by midsummer, which would reopen that stretch of northside Greenbelt.

Early this month, Concrete Placing Company started work on a new project: 4,900 feet of concrete path that will stretch between Joe’s Crab Shack and the northwest corner of Ann Morrison Park on the south side of the river. Its scheduled completion is September 2016.

This is the last section of Greenbelt in Boise that has a path on just one side of the river.

“Not having it done (on the south side) has been a constant thorn in everybody’s side,” Boise City Councilwoman Elaine Clegg said.

Besides being the council’s liaison to Boise’s Parks and Recreation Department, Clegg has spent her career studying land use and transportation issues. She’s an outspoken advocate of developing communities in ways that encourage walking and biking while reducing a reliance on cars.

Clegg said completing the Greenbelt on the south side of the river fits the larger mission of providing better transportation connections. She hopes the new section will lead to more people walking or biking to work and play instead of driving.

“To me, the evidence is pretty clear that when you do a good job of making things convenient and safe, people will use it,” Clegg said.

A federal grant is covering 93 percent of the project’s expected $2.3 million cost, said Kelly Burrows, development coordinator for Parks and Recreation. The city is on the hook for the remaining $161,000.

Lane closures for Greenbelt project

Vehicle lanes have been closed on Fairview Avenue and Main Street while crews build tunnels under those roads to accommodate the new stretch of Greenbelt. Here’s a look at what to expect if you drive those roads.

Main Street: reduced to one lane between Whitewater Park Boulevard and Garden Street until late January. Reduced to two lanes until mid-March.

Fairview Avenue: reduced to two lanes crossing the Boise River until early July.

Source: Boise Parks and Recreation

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