Friday, May 24, 2013

Bike path work to begin next summer

Some spots might be fixed this year

Express Staff Writer

Cyclist Dylan Probowo, front, rides with his family south of Ketchum on the Wood River Trail bike path. Photo by Roland Lane

     Passage on Tuesday of a two-year, $3.5 million tax levy to fund repairs on the Wood River Trail bike path means work will begin on the trail next summer.

     The countywide levy passed by a vote of 2,155 to 455.

     “We’re all really thrilled,” said Mary Austin Crofts, chair of the Champions of the Wood River Trails organization that campaigned for the levy. “We think it’s a big win for our community. It’s a confirmation that the community believes the path is one of our greatest assets.”

     Crofts said about 150 people donated time or money to promote passage of the levy.

     The funds will allow the Blaine County Recreation District to reconstruct the 20-mile trail from Hulen Meadows north of Ketchum to Gannett Road south of Bellevue. The levy will last two years, collecting $1.75 million each year, by adding $21 per $100,000 of taxable property value.

     The reconstruction mostly involves smoothing out the path’s asphalt surface.

     Recreation District Executive Director Jim Keating said bids for the project will be solicited from engineering firms and contractors.

     “We’ll start working immediately on putting the engineering specs and planning together,” he said.

     Keating said the general plan is to begin work on the southern part of the bike path because there has been less deterioration there and it can be repaired for less cost if that work is done soon. He said repairs there can be done by milling the base and reusing that material, while the more deteriorated northern section will have to be covered with new material.

     Keating said the district board will decide on a more specific work schedule depending on recommendations from the engineering and contracting firms.

     He said some work might be done this summer on isolated patches of the path near St. Luke’s Wood River hospital using money from the Recreation District’s fiscal 2013 budget.

     A report compiled by Galena Engineers states that the trail is experiencing “alligator cracking” (cracking in a web pattern, mostly on the edges of the trail surface), horizontal cracks and cracks in patching material that has been used to fill previous cracks. The report states that many of the problems are occurring in the first four miles of the trail north of Ketchum, the first segment of the trail to be built in 1984.

Greg Moore:

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