Ada County Parks and Waterways announced Tuesday that it will begin construction on repairs to the Boise River Greenbelt in East Boise this week.
Work will begin Friday, pending execution of the contract. The rebuilt section along the Barber Pool Conservation Area was supposed to open June 22 but contractors damaged the new surface while grading the shoulders, the county has said. The pathway has remained closed while the county determined a course of action.
“The board’s top priority is to ensure this pathway segment is safe for public use and this project is completed according to Ada County standards,” the county posted on Facebook. “We appreciate the public’s patience and respect for all pathway closures while repairs to the damaged asphalt surface are performed. Ada County officials are eager to reopen this segment of the Greenbelt Pathway for all users to enjoy during this beautiful summer weather. We’re getting close!”
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Ada County was prepared to open the long-awaited, reconstructed Boise River Greenbelt segment on the eastern edge of Boise this month.
But a week before the June 22 target date, the county discovered that construction crews had damaged the new asphalt while grading the 2-foot-wide, gravel shoulders that border the path, said Kate McGwire, the public information officer for Ada County.
The opening is on hold indefinitely — and eager riders aren’t pleased. They’re ignoring closure signs and barricades and apparently removing the notices the county placed updating the situation.
“It is damaged to the point that we are not comfortable putting people out there due to public safety,” McGwire said. “... We need the entire thing to be up to code, up to safety standards, before we can let someone on it.”
The majority of the 1.65-mile segment has been damaged, McGwire said. The county still is assessing how the repairs should be made and who will foot the bill, she said. The original project, which included piping the Penitentiary Canal, widening the often-narrow, painfully bumpy path to 11 feet and constructing “recovery shoulders,” cost more than $2 million.
The reconstructed area runs from Shakespeare Way to Diversion Dam and borders the Barber Pool Conservation Area. The previous version was 9 feet wide without a center line in places, and last summer parts of the path had as little as 7 feet of usable space.
“You have to be cautious more than on other sections of the Greenbelt,” Scott Koberg, the director of Ada County Parks & Waterways, said during a riding tour of the area last summer. “It’s just narrow and pretty steep on both sides.”
The stretch, which connects the Harris Ranch neighborhoods to Lucky Peak Lake, and connects the East Valley and River Heights neighborhoods to Downtown, has been closed since October. It’s also popular with long-distance road cyclists. The alternative is to ride on a narrow stretch of Warm Springs Avenue that doesn’t have consistent sidewalks or bike lanes.
Cyclists have been going around the barricades in recent weeks to ride on the new Greenbelt surface.
“I was driving out to Lucky Peak on Sunday and saw numerous people out there,” McGwire said. “... We have been putting up signs explaining that we’ve got to keep this closed for a while longer and the neighbors down there are taking down our signs. They took down every single one that we put up last week.
“... We are working as quickly as possible to get it done. We know how eager everyone is, especially the neighbors out there and those who commute.”