Spending the money necessary to keep the Wood River Trail system in good repair is a good investment, and voters should unreservedly approve the $3.5 million repair bond on the ballot in the special election next Tuesday.
The asphalt in the 20-mile-long system is cracked and developing potholes despite regular maintenance. The bond would cost property taxpayers an estimated $21 per $100,000 of taxable property value.
The Wood River Trail system is a remarkable asset that links the entire Wood River Valley from Hulen Meadows south through Bellevue to Silver Creek. Building the system was the sole reason voters created the Blaine County Recreation District more than 30 years ago. Today, the system embodies the foresight of residents whose vision of linked communities engaged voters and convinced them to build the system of non-motorized trails.
The “bike path,” as it’s affectionately known, has been an unmitigated success. Large numbers of people, estimated at a total of 300,000 last year, use the path during every season of the year.
Cyclists, walkers, bladers, cross-country skiers and equestrians of all ages are avid fans of the path. Some commute to work; some are visitors for whom it’s a good way to get a taste of the valley. Moms and dads with strollers are a regular sight.
The path is a boon to both property values and to the Blaine County area’s economy. It’s a key part of the area’s exceptional quality of life. It attracts visitors, who are often astonished at the extent of the trail system when they discover it and use it again and again on return trips.
The path was one of the first successful efforts in Idaho in which a former railroad right of way was converted to a non-motorized trail instead of reverting to adjacent private property owners or becoming a highway.
Keeping our beloved path intact will be worth every cent. Vote yes.