Idaho Falls, ID – Idaho Falls community members will have new pathways to enjoy in the future, thanks to a recent landmark agreement between the City of Idaho Falls and the Idaho Irrigation District.
In November 2017, the Idaho Falls City Council entered into a Master Canal Pathway Agreement with the Idaho Irrigation District for the development of pathways along numerous irrigation canals throughout the city. The agreement identifies how the city and Irrigation District will work together on the planning, design, safety and maintenance of the new trail system.
During the City Council meeting on Nov. 21, Councilman John Radford stated, “This is a very exciting moment in the history of pathways in Idaho Falls. This has been quite the process, and many of people worked very hard to help us see the vision of how we could connect our community through the canal system.”
The Irrigation District’s network of canals is proximate to many Idaho Falls homes and businesses, making these new trails a welcome amenity to the city and its residents. Canal trails will also provide safe multi-modal transportation alternatives to traditional streets and sidewalks for cyclists and pedestrians. Schoolchildren and cyclists alike will be able to avoid busy roadways. Plans to enhance and upgrade crosswalks at canal crossings will provide another layer of safety. Both of these create safer routes to and from school.
The first canal trail to be built when funding becomes available would be located along the Idaho Canal. It would provide an alternative route to the busy arterial streets of Holmes Avenue and Woodruff Avenue where traffic counts show an average daily traffic of over 16,000 vehicles per day. Pending a grant application, construction on Phase I of the trail could begin as early as this spring.
The Department of Parks and Recreation will engage with existing community groups like Community Pathways and the Idaho Walk Bike Alliance to educate residents on canal safety and develop an Adopt-a-Trail program.
Councilwoman Michelle Ziel-Dingman stated, “One thing that I love about this [agreement] is that not only does it improve access, but it is a low investment with a high return. That is really the dream for us as we move forward to expand pathways.”
Canal trails are featured prominently in the city’s Connecting Our Community (COC) plan, a comprehensive bicycle, pedestrian, and trail facility master plan adopted by the City Council in 2014 that focuses on the Idaho Falls area. This plan was the culmination of a yearlong public planning process, which included three community meetings with over 300 attendees, a statistically valid survey with more than 1,100 respondents, and website participation from another 100 individuals.
Members of the public consistently ranked canal pathway routes as a high priority. City residents identified safety enhancements, mobility and economic viability as being key. An Idaho Canal trail was prioritized as the most important transportation alternative project in the master plan.
Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper states, “We are excited to move forward in Idaho Falls. Pathways along water routes have been implemented very successfully across the nation. The promise of this landmark agreement would translate into twenty-four miles of new city pathways. When it comes to adding local value, these are pure gold when you develop them.”
Parks and Recreation Director Greg A. Weitzel states, “This agreement will improve the quality of life in our community. We are very thankful to the many people involved with this effort including Mayor Casper, the Idaho Falls City Council, Idaho Irrigation District staff and directors and attorney Rob Harris for working very hard to ink this landmark agreement. We are committed to ensure the trails are safe and well maintained for all users and that everyone understands this is a privilege for our community.”
Media Note: For more information or to schedule an interview with city staff, contact Public Information Officer, Kerry Hammon at (208) 612-8122 or [email protected].