Guest Opinions

Guest Opinion: Garden City celebrates Greenbelt link at West Bridge

Garden City celebrates the completion of the city’s long-term strategic investment in the Greenbelt with the opening of the Garden City West Bridge at 1 p.m. today. Sometimes big visions can take generations to fully realize, but it is often these big visions that define communities, maximize our quality of life and improve economic prosperity.

The Greenbelt is greatly valued by Treasure Valley residents but is also a draw for tourists seeking an urban wilderness setting and businesses that desire to locate operations in a lifestyle setting. Whether you use the Greenbelt to cycle to work or as your perfect hidden fishing spot, consider what it takes to bring a community vision to fruition.

The vision to create a continuous pathway along the Boise River goes back to 1962, and its realization provides our community with opportunities for generations to come. Over the last 50-plus years, thousands of committed volunteers have given their time and contributed resources to complete this world class community asset.

Since 2006, when the Garden City Council completed the city’s comprehensive plan, the vision has been to capitalize on the city’s strengths as a diverse community nestled by the river. Over the past nine years, Garden City has seen the addition of two major bridges, completed the paved pathway through town and spent $2.2 million to fulfill Garden City’s commitment.

It is an honor for our city to be the site of this critical link. The opening of the Garden City West Bridge — accessible off North Ulmer Lane and State Street — moves the vision of a 30-mile continuous path along the banks of the Boise River one step closer to realization. It establishes a crucial connection in the multiuse trail system from Lucky Peak to Eagle.

Nurturing our natural environment to create a beautiful, interconnected transportation corridor is an investment that Garden City residents strongly support. In addition to completing an important commuter and recreation corridor, the West Bridge is a critical connection that links outdoor enthusiasts to the Valley-wide park system, where visitors can access parks and pristine habitat reserves, including Garden City’s own Garden City Nature Path.

This project is an example of the Garden City Council’s commitment to collaborative partnerships that advance our community’s common goals. The $1.2 million investment demonstrates how productively governments can work together when advancing a shared vision. The Garden City West Bridge project was funded by four main sources — none of which created any extra burden on taxpayers.

First, the project received a $730,000 grant from the Federal Transportation, Community, and System Preservation Fund. Second, the Garden City Council, Ada County Commissioners, and Idaho Parks and Recreation allocated the remaining resources needed to finish the project.

Then, private businesses stepped up to contribute time and resources to finishing the project. We are especially grateful to Ada County for surveying, J-U-B for grant writing and development, and Resource Systems Inc. for its contributions to the West Bridge effort.

As a longtime resident of this beautiful Valley and the proud mayor of Garden City, it is my pleasure to extend an invitation to visit the new Garden City West Bridge. Please walk, ride, jog or roll safely as you explore this wonderful amenity. May this bridge serve as a pathway to adventure and a reminder that vision supported by collaboration unifies our communities and enhances our quality of life.

John Evans is the mayor of Garden City.

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