Part of the Ship Creek bike trail is off limits due to a serious case of erosion.
The City Parks Director , Holly Spoth-Torres, said 15-to-20 feet of land along the trail, north of Viking Drive, was lost in 24 hours. Since mid-week, a barrier is blocking the section to bicyclists and pedestrians.
“They pulled up in a forklift and dropped the barriers and said go ride your bikes somewhere else,” said William Tyrell, Jr. He said he was riding on the trail when they started to block that area.
Spoth-Torres said it’s a safety measure put in place because the erosion is unpredictable.
“The gravel was really falling into the creek, and they couldn’t predict how much more gravel will fall,” said Spoth Torres.
Spoth-Torres said it appears the recent rainfall, the snowmelt and the ground water in the area are contributing to the problem. Another reason may be the fast current that’s coming around the bend and cutting the bluff and depositing it on the other side.
But many bicyclists are ignoring the warnings altogether and going around the barricade. Some are riding closer to the edge of the bluff.
“It would be suicidal to stand on the edge of that thing. That thing keeps caving in,” said avid bicyclist William Tyrell. Tyrell believes blocking the trail opens up a path to danger. “I think the problem is keeping away from the bluff. Signs to keep away from the edge because that’s the danger. Instead, you have the pathway closed. Big deal! That doesn’t prevent anyone from walking to the edge. It doesn’t even indicate, don’t walk up to the edge,” he said.
Spoth-Torres said the city is working on putting up signs on why the trail is closed.
The erosion is déjà vu for those who regularly use this trail. The current trail is a result of pushing back the old one, away from the water. But only a few months after the new path opened, more land is being lost to the creek.
Spoth-Torres said she will meet with a hydrologist on Monday to examine if the area would erode further in the coming years, and if so, find a solution.