The closure of W. River Parkway near the University of Minnesota is likely to continue well into next year, according to a recommendation made Friday as heavy rain pelted down on the same unstable hillside that collapsed two months earlier.
The recommendation to hire an engineering consultant to oversee a permanent repair notes that the firm, Barr Engineering, is urging that no construction occur in the winter months when fluctuating temperatures will send groundwater in the hillside through a freeze-thaw cycle. A Park Board staff memo said that construction to repair the hillside would most likely start in spring.
The proposed contract for up to $640,000 with Barr goes before park commissioners for a vote on Wednesday. That covers further investigation into the conditions at the collapse site, designing a repair, and overseeing construction.
The total cost of dealing with the collapse, including construction, is estimated at about $6 million, according to Bruce Chamberlain, an assistant parks superintendent. Chamberlain said the Park Board would likely pay about three-quarters of the cost, with Fairview-University Medical Center covering the rest. Park officials said they are planning on federal disaster aid flowing from the heavy June rains eventually reimbursing 75 percent of the project's cost, and hope that the state legislature will cover the balance.
The June 19 hillside collapse closed the parkway near S. 4th Street, blocking use of the parkway by an estimated 6,900 vehicles and almost 1,000 bikers a day, according to the staff memo. Although temporary measures have been installed, Chamberlain said park officials have decided not to reopen the parkway until they're confident it is stable enough not to collapse again.
"I'm going to head down there right now and see what we've got," Chamberlain said after heavy late afternoon rain on Friday.
The temorary measures include an impervious fabric to shield the hillside from the impact of further rain, and the diversion of storm water that flows from the hospital area away from the hill.