Thursday, April 06, 2017

Flood conditions force closure of vulnerable Greenbelt sections in Boise, Garden City

Boise Mayor David Bieter and Garden City Mayor John Evans today ordered the closure of most of the Greenbelt bike and pedestrian path due to dangerous flood conditions on the Boise River. 

Greenbelt Fullclosure 4 6 17 300Dpi 4The announcement comes on the heels of yesterday’s announcement of the pathway’s closure in the City of Eagle.

With today’s joint announcement, all but approximately 11 miles of Greenbelt pathway through Ada County will be closed due to the river conditions. The Boise and Garden City closures will be in effect starting at 6 p.m. this evening.

Current Boise River flows exceed 8,000 cubic feet per second with the high, swift and cold water making conditions extremely dangerous – potentially fatal -- for people and pets. Those flows are likely to increase to around 8,500 cfs by the end of today. Because of this winter’s deep snow pack, these conditions are expected to remain into June, at least. 

In addition to protecting the public, today’s Greenbelt closure is also an effort to ensure the safety of first responders who would be called upon in the event a river rescue is needed. City of Boise public safety officials reminded residents and others that they could be held responsible for costs incurred during a rescue on the river, as per city code (BBC 7-02-01 through 7-02-07). 

“These are very dangerous conditions for anyone who finds themselves in the river, including first responders,” said Boise Fire Chief Dennis Doan. “No one, no matter how strong of a swimmer, would be able to last long in the current and temperatures we’re seeing in the river right now. We ask all residents to respect this closure to prevent any tragedies.”

This evening’s Greenbelt closure (please see county-wide map) restricts access to all low-lying areas of the Greenbelt vulnerable to the flood waters. Nine sections of the pathway in the City of Boise have already been closed due to the dangerous high water, which has eroded the river bank, undermined the path’s pavement and uprooted several trees along the river and path in recent days.

“We know that Boiseans love their Greenbelt, so this decision was not made lightly,” said Mayor Bieter. “However, such dangerous and unpredictable conditions along the Boise River are unprecedented and we are deeply concerned about our residents’ safety. Out of an abundance of caution, we feel we must restrict access to these areas where dangerous conditions exist and where unexpected dangers could arise.”

The closure will remain in effect until the dangerous river conditions subside. Several sections of the Greenbelt, totaling approximately 11 miles of pathway, are expected to remain unaffected by the flooding and will remain open. This includes the section managed by the Ada County Parks and Waterways Department between Warm Springs Golf Course and Lucky Peak Dam.

“We want to be safe, rather than sorry,” said Mayor Evans. “With these unprecedented conditions, we just do not know what kind of hazards and dangers might be lurking. We ask everyone to simply stay away from the river and the Greenbelt.”

Last Friday, Mayor Bieter declared a state of local emergency in the City of Boise due to the nearly unprecedented river flows and the unpredictable impacts those flood waters could have on the city over an extended period of time. The conditions also prompted the Boise Fire Department, last week, to post a “dangerous river conditions” warning along the length of the river in the city.

Barricades and signage will be in place to warn residents about the closure. Also, Boise police officers, parks and recreation staff, and Greenbelt volunteers are prepared to educate and warn residents about the dangerous situation and the closures. While education will be the main method of enforcing the closure, those who violate the closure in the City of Boise could be cited for a misdemeanor and fined, as per city code (BCC 13-03-05.E).

Visit this website for more information about the river conditions and their impact on the City of Boise.