Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bike path could get $3.5 million upgrade

Bellevue grants encroachment permit to BCRD

Express Staff Writer

    The 20-mile-long paved path that connects the northern and southern ends of the Wood River Valley is in need of repair. The Blaine County Recreation District board of directors will likely request a temporary countywide tax increase to rebuild it in the near future.
    “That is the dominant thinking right now,” district Executive Director Jim Keating said in an interview Tuesday.
    Keating was granted an encroachment permit on Thursday, Jan. 24, by the Bellevue City Council to provide routine maintenance on the southernmost portion of the trail, which runs from Spruce Street in Bellevue to its terminus at Gannett Road.
    The city of Bellevue took ownership of this section of the trail in 2002 from the Idaho Transportation Department, but did not provide an easement to the Recreation District.
    Bellevue Planning Administrator Craig Eckles said the need for trail rehabilitation through Bellevue exists primarily at its many intersections with city streets.
    “ There are a lot of breaks in the path as it passes through Bellevue,” Keating noted at last week’s meeting.
     A county bond in 1988 helped pay for the entire southern section of the trail, from Gannett Road to Ohio Gulch north of Hailey. It now runs from Bellevue through Hailey and Ketchum and north to Hulen Meadows, covering miles of old railroad tracks, and crosses the Big Wood River and state Highway 75.
    “There are 60 separate easements granted along the way,” said Keating. “It is truly an amazing achievement.”
    Keating said in an interview Tuesday that a rehabilitation of the entire Wood River Trail is needed to prevent it from deteriorating further, which could lead to a more costly reconstruction.
    Keating said the estimated cost of rehabilitating the entire trail for the next 25 to 30 years is $3.5 million, which could be paid through a two-year countywide tax increase that would have to be passed by a majority of Blaine County voters. He said the increase could be split over two years.
    Keating said the next opportunity for the Recreation District board to decide on going public with the issue would be at its Feb. 19 meeting.    
    In other Bellevue news:
( The City Council authorized payments of $775 to upgrade a window on the west side of City Hall, and $5,100 for purchase of a fire hose for the Bellevue Fire Department.

Tony Evans:

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