Sir Winston Churchill, delivering a commence address, once said, “this is not the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning.”
Words that easily could be adapted and applied to the Greater Blackfoot Area Greenbelt.
About 60 people turned out Wednesday to mark the end of an eight-year process to construct a recreational trail near Interstate 15 in Blackfoot. Using Churchill’s reasoning, though, the enthusiastic crowd really celebrated the beginning of a trail system that will serve recreationalists for generations.
The 6.5-mile trail connects Jensen’s Grove, a popular park near the Snake River with Rose Ponds. Traveling the 10-foot wide path actually equates to a 10-mile journey.
Even before the final loop was added, with the help of ITD and federal enhancement funds, the trail had achieved a place of prominence among bicyclists, walkers and joggers. Blackfoot Mayor Scott Reese said the first calls his office receives after a snowstorm is how soon the trail will be plowed.
The city purchased a special pick-up-mounted plow to keep the path open even during inclement weather.
Rep. Joe Cannon, also a principal in Cannon Builders Inc., introduced family members and acknowledged their help in securing materials and providing labor for construction of an arched wooden bridge across the Danskin Canal. It serves as a critical link in the Greenbelt and was the site of Wednesday’s banner-breaking ceremony.
The event included a welcome by Idaho Transportation Board member Neil Miller, a Blackfoot resident, board chair Chuck Winder, ITD Director Dave Ekern, Reese and Errol Covington, a Bingham County Commissioner.
Following their remarks, local officials mounted bicycles at the far end of the arched bridge and rode through a banner, officially opening the route to public use.
In truly multimodal fashion, transportation board members arrived via Operation Lifesaver, a replica of a locomotive engine and open-air rail car (actually a tractor-pulled trailer), and departed via chartered bus. They included the trail ceremony on their District 5 tour and August board meeting.