More from the Homepage
Blog 390604651

Remember W. River Parkway? Long-closed landslide area to reopen before Labor Day weekend

VideoVideo (00:20) : Heavy rain caused a mudslide below the University of Minnesota Medical Center.
Matt Gillmer

A long-closed section of W. River Parkway is likely to be open for Labor Day weekend.

That's the word from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board about the closed parkway segment downhill from Fairview-University Medical Center, where torrential rains in June, 2014 caused the landslide of a portion of the bluff onto the parkway below. It has remained closed for 26 months.

Cliff Swenson, a Park Board manager, said that the long-delayed reopening should occur in time for the morning commute on Sept. 2, the Friday of Labor Day weekend.

Repairs to keep the rest of the bluff from sliding actually were far enough along by last month to reopen the parkway. But that didn't happen because the contractor that is rebuilding the Franklin Avenue Bridge for Hennepin County needed the parkway running underneath to remain closed for access and safety reasons until the bridge was redecked.

Swenson said the plan is to remove barriers for both the parkway and the bridge after the close of the workday on Sept. 1. County spokesman Colin Cox would commit only to the bridge reopening "before Labor Day." About 10,000 motor vehicles use the bridge daily.

The lengthy closure of the parkway has irritated commuters who use the route and park commissioners who are peppered with questions from constituents about ever-extending plans for reopening.

The mudslide occurred in June 2014. Park officials said that September that the parkway wouldn’t reopen until August, 2015. Then, the following January after letting a contract for the job, they pushed that back to October. But construction didn’t start until early July. In September, 2015, completion was delayed to December. On Nov. 20, reopening the parkway by Jan. 1 was promised. Then park officials abruptly reversed that three weeks later and pushed the reopening back to around Labor Day, 2016.

This time, Swenson said, "We have a pretty good confidence level" in the reopening, barring something unexpected.

The project meanwhile ballooned to $6.3 million as delay and the complexity of the recommended fix increased costs. The Park Board expects to recoup most of that cost through federal and state disaster aid. It will also get reimbursement for some of the work from the medical center.

The main components of the project involve the installation of four new retaining walls, two high on the bluff and two closer to the bottom, and adding more drainage routes for stormwater via an large existing pipe that drains to the river.

Even after the parkway and bridge reopen, additional finishing work will continue.  Although both the parkway and adjoining trails are expected to remain open, intermittent closing of pedestrian and biking areas on the bridge are expected.  

Read our comment standards welcomes and encourages readers to comment and engage in substantive, mutually respectful exchanges over news topics. Commenters must follow our Terms of Use.

  1. Keep it civil and stay on topic.
  2. No profanity, vulgarity, racial slurs or personal attacks.
  3. Comments with web links are not permitted.
  4. Comments that violate the above will be removed. Repeat violators may lose their commenting privileges on

Comments will be reviewed before being published.

Star Tribune Recommends
More From Local
    South Metro
    17 minutes ago

    One killed, another injured in shooting on party bus in Inver Grove Heights

    One man was fatally shot and another was injured during a fight on a "party bus" early Saturday in Inver Grove Heights, police said.The shootings…
    40 minutes ago
    Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor left the Hennepin County jail with his attorney, Thomas Plunkett.

    Racial dynamic draws focus in case vs. Noor in Damond killing

    Some Somali-Americans worried their community, rather than the use of deadly force by an officer, will end up on trial.
    42 minutes ago
    Chris Jennings of Minneapolis North High school joined other students from Minnesota that attended the March For Our Lives rally Saturday in Washingto

    Minnesotans add passion, voices to D.C. march on gun control

    Students from many backgrounds joined together as 800,000 rallied for stricter gun control as part of the March for Our Lives event.
    St. Paul
    42 minutes ago
    In St. Paul, 20,000 rally for gun control

    In St. Paul, 20,000 rally for gun control

    In rallies at the Capitol and in a few other communities across Minnesota, students found new power and energy as they led March for Our Lives demonstrations.
    South Metro
    Shakopee schools chief Gary Anger talked with fourth-graders Allis Ayala Lopez, left, and Elvin Rascon.

    Shakopee schools chief looks to heal troubled district – and himself

    Superintendent Gary Anger has relied on small gestures to boost morale in an embattled district stung by scandal.
Featured Gallery
13 photos The annual World Clown Association 2018 Convention's theme this year was Ringling ...
Featured Video
03:17 "We shouldn't have to teach our kindergarteners to hide in a closet" was the ...