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Where have all the trees gone? Beautification project in downtown Idaho Falls getting underway

Idaho Falls

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IDAHO FALLS — A beautification project for the downtown area in Idaho Falls is slated to get underway next week.

The West Broadway Street Sidewalk Improvement Project will begin Monday. The planned areas for improvement will be between Memorial Drive and North Yellowstone Avenue. The project will last about 45 days. The improvements include the replacement of curb, gutter, and sidewalks so that they’re ADA compliant.

You may have noticed some activity on the project already. The city Parks and Rec. department began replacing trees in the area on Tuesday.

“We’ve run into a couple of instances where (trees are) root bound or they’re not healthy or they’re older,” Public works spokesperson Kerry Hammon tells EastIdahoNews.com.

Catherine Smith, executive director of Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation, says the trees have been there for about three decades. Parks and Rec has ordered at least 19 new replacement trees. The new trees will be “healthier trees specific to the difficult environment found along a highly used traffic corridor,” Smith says.

Existing planter boxes will continue to be replaced downtown as well. Some planters have already been replaced with pots.

“We’ve also torn out some of those older planters downtown that were falling apart,” Hammon says. “They were just old and they needed to be replaced so we’ve taken out some of those planters on those corners and replaced them with pots.”

Planters have been replaced with pots. | Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com

The project also calls for decorative lighting, paid for by Idaho Falls Power, and decorative pavers. A water drip-line irrigation system will be installed that will keep greenery growing. The city anticipates water line replacements projects as well.

“We’re just improving our infrastructure downtown in general,” Hammon says. “Have patience and watch out for pedestrians and workers in the area and we’ll try to get things completed as quickly as possible.”

Various departments from the City of Idaho Falls in conjunction with the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation the Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency have jumped on board to oversee and provide funding for these projects.

The Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency provided a $525,000 grant to the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation (IFDDC) in the fall of 2018. IFDDC matched the grant with $50,000.

“We are excited to take the lead in beautification efforts that will certainly result in lasting change. Downtown has seen significant growth in the last 18 months and we are thrilled to be part of the efforts both as a catalyst for this growth and grateful recipient of the downtown experience,” Smith says.

If lanes have to close on Broadway Street it will be during off-peak times so traffic won’t be impacted as much, Hammon says.

The city has a new interactive map where people can watch construction projects and see what roads are affected on its website.

Broadway Street between Memorial Drive and Yellowstone Avenue where trees have been removed | Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com

Broadway Street between Memorial Drive and Yellowstone Avenue where trees have been removed | Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com

Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com
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