POCATELLO — Bicyclists, skateboarders, rollerbladers and other outdoor enthusiasts will soon have a new paved section of the Portneuf Greenway trail system to enjoy.
The Portneuf Greenway Foundation announced Tuesday that its Interstate 15 corridor project -- the next major part of its paved trail system -- is now under construction and should be completed by Sept. 1.
The $355,000 section of trail now under construction will connect the Monte Vista Drive/Interstate 15 overpass with East Center Street. It is the first step in creating a lengthy trail that will connect Pocatello's Highland High School area and the Portneuf Wellness Complex, both on the city's north side, with Idaho State University and south Pocatello's Edson Fichter Nature Area, according to Dan Harelson, the projects manager for the Portneuf Greenway Foundation.
“We have been working with our partners in the community for several years to pull this project together,” Harelson said. “It’s very gratifying to see the equipment here on site building this major extension of the Greenway along I-15."
The Greenway Foundation's Interstate 15 corridor project involves taking the existing Marshall-Racine section of the Portneuf Greenway trail, which runs parallel to Interstate 15 north of the Idaho Farm Bureau Insurance building, and extending it south for almost a mile from the Monte Vista Drive/Interstate 15 overpass. The work that began this week will build a new section of paved trail from the overpass south to the Farm Bureau Insurance building.
The Farm Bureau will then pave a section of trail from its property to East Center Street, meaning that when the corridor project is completed by Sept. 1 there will be a paved trail from the Monte Vista/Interstate 15 overpass all the way to East Center.
This paved multi-use non-motorized trail will be 10 feet wide and is being constructed by the DL Beck Co. of Rexburg. It will be built in accordance with Americans with Disabilities Act standards, the Greenway Foundation reported.
Rory Erchul, president of the Portneuf Greenway Foundation, said “Our community supporters have been key to making this trail system a reality and I would especially like to thank Idaho Farm Bureau Insurance for their support.”
Erchul said Idaho Farm Bureau Insurance's willingness to be part of the project made it possible for the necessary grant funding to be obtained to complete the work.
“I feel proud to live in a community where we can work together to make Pocatello an even better place to live and work,” Erchul said.
Erchul said the city of Pocatello sponsored the project by coordinating the construction bids and the Marshall and Racine families granted easements on their properties for the new section of trail.
“The city has been a tremendous partner over the years,” Erchul added.
In addition to grants from the Idaho Department of Transportation and Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, the Interstate 15 corridor project was aided by numerous community members, organizations and businesses contributing matching funds to the Portneuf Greenway Foundation.
Erchul said the various donors included the Ifft Foundation, Keller Engineering, Idaho Central Credit Union, Farm Bureau Insurance, Paul Link and several others who wished to remain anonymous.
Erchul said thus far there are about 15 miles of paved Greenway Foundation trails in Pocatello, with plans to eventually add another 27 miles.
Erchul said the Greenway Foundation would like to have the Highland High School area and Portneuf Wellness Complex connected via trail to ISU and the Edson Fichter Nature Area by 2022.
The Greenway Foundation is also talking to Chubbuck officials about expanding the Greenway trail system into that city, Erchul said.
The Greenway Foundation's trail system enhances Pocatello's outdoor recreation offerings, provides people with an alternative thoroughfare to travel in the city, and represents an attractive feature for prospective residents and businesses looking to possibly relocate here, Erchul said.
“Thousands of communities from Idaho Falls and Boise to Austin in Texas or Oklahoma City in Oklahoma have greenway trail systems,” Erchul said. “And every single person that I have spoke with said they love what the trail system does for their city. Why should Pocatello be any different?”
In addition to the construction of the new section of trail along Interstate 15, Erchul said the Greenway Foundation is gearing up for one of its biggest annual fundraisers. Those who would like to support the Portneuf Greenway Foundation and its future endeavors are invited to Riverfest at Lower Ross Park from 3 p.m. until 10 p.m. on Aug. 18.