'09 Greenbelt 

Spring projects tangle with tree roots and cordon off a canal

To Dave Selvage, design and development manager at Boise Parks and Recreation, "alligatoring" on the Greenbelt is a major problem. Despite invoking bayou images, Greenbelt alligatoring is lingo for weathered asphalt breaking apart in a pattern akin to alligator skin. It's one of the many repairs that Selvage oversees.

"The Greenbelt is one of Boise's most used facilities. We expect 72 percent of Boise residents will visit the Greenbelt this year," Selvage told BW, referring to a recent study. In the 22.5 miles of Greenbelt that Selvage and Boise Parks and Rec oversee, two sections in particular will receive special attention this year, with Ada County equally busy on another project outside the city limits.

The Greenbelt is in for some renovations to meet the increased demand, with plans for Greenbelt expansion still in the works.

Commencing in mid-April, $176,000 of attention will go to a mile of the path between Marden Lane and the Warms Springs Golf Course, as well as a half-mile of path north along the Boise River between the Garden City footbridge to Wylie Lane. Because of the advanced deterioration of the path, the city will tear up existing asphalt and repave the path. For Greenbelt users, detour routes will require a foray into the surrounding neighborhoods. While the construction will be implemented in one- and two-week blocks, leaving as much of the path open at any given time as possible, Amy Stahl, Boise Parks and Recreation spokeswoman, recommends that Greenbelt users frequently check the Boise Parks and Recreation Web site to plan accordingly.

Farther down Warm Springs Avenue, beyond the city limits, Ada County is already in the midst of a $100,000 project to eliminate ongoing erosion problems associated with the Old Penitentiary Lateral, a canal running parallel to the path. Beginning in early March, Ada County closed 700 feet of path while the canal is filled in and the adjacent Greenbelt is repaved.

"It is extremely important to get this work done before spring water flows swell the canal and cause further erosion damage to the bike path," stated Bob Batista, Director of Ada County Parks and Waterways.

A current detour runs along Warm Springs Avenue, and the project is scheduled for completion on April 24.

When parts of the bike path are torn up, Selvage emphasizes that the material is not going to waste. "We don't haul stuff off if we can help it," said Selvage. The old path will be pulverized and put to use as a base layer for the new path. Additionally, while tree roots are the bane of bike paths everywhere, Selvage emphasizes that Boise Parks and Recreation keeps a careful eye on tree health in the process of removing intruding roots. "Part of our job is to protect the riparian zones," he said.

Even bigger plans are in store for the Greenbelt in the future. One mile of land donated along the Boise River below Warm Springs Mesa is slated to be the new route of the Greenbelt, opening access to a portion of river previously accessible only by floating. The existing section of Greenbelt veers from the river, following Warm Springs Avenue.

But this rerouting of the 40-year-old Greenbelt is still a few more years down the road.

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