Bike Path Set for Extension 

With any luck, bicyclists and runners will have some new paths to explore in southeast Boise. Ada County Commissioners plan to award a major construction contract to a Nampa company to extend the Greenbelt bike path near Barber Park in Southeast Boise. The project cost is estimated at $840,000, with $500,000 coming from an Idaho Transportation Department grant awarded to Ada County.

The board selected Paul Construction Inc. to begin work on the new so-called Eckert Bike Path Extension project. Work on the path should begin this month, county officials said, and could be done as early as March 2007.

"With Barber Park's growing popularity in Ada County, we must create a safer way for outdoor enthusiasts in southeast Ada County to access the greenbelt near Barber Park," said Ada County Commisssioner Judy Peavey-Derr in a prepared statement. "As it is now, residents must walk or bike along busy Amity Road in order to get to Barber Park and the Greenbelt."

Amity Road also offers the only bridge over the New York Canal. Since there are no sidewalks along Amity, bikers, walkers, and joggers are forced to use the shoulders of the road when traveling to and from Barber Park and the greenbelt system.

The Eckert Bike Path project includes a new, separate 117-foot pedestrian bridge over the New York Canal and a half-mile of paved pathway that roughly parallels Healy Road. Once it's up and ready for runners, the path will be operated and maintained by the Ada County Parks and Waterways Department. That agency is headquartered in Barber Park, which last year tallied more than 85,000 visitors.

"Finally, residents living in Surprise Valley, Columbia Village and other developments in southeast Boise will have a safe link to the greenbelt," said Ada County Commissioner Fred Tilman. "It's projects like this that greatly enhance the quality of life in Ada County and we're proud to be able to move this project off the drawing board."

Construction on the new half mile Eckert Bike Path Extension will begin later this month and is slated to be completed and ready for public use in March of 2007.

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