Workers will soon begin building a 250-foot-long wall along the unstable Wabasha bluff in St. Paul to enable the reopening of Wabasha Street, city officials announced Wednesday.
Work on the $1.1 million project is expected to begin the week of June 25 and to take 12 weeks.
Wabasha Street between Plato Boulevard and Cesar Chavez Street on the city's west side was closed at the end of April when a large slab of the bluff fell onto the street. The rock slide scattered debris as large as a bed mattress. No one was hurt.
The city hired the Itasca Consulting Group to survey the area and make recommendations for how to shore up the bluff and ensure public safety.
City officials considered removing sections of the limestone bluff before deciding to build a gabion wall. Building the wall is considered the more cost-effective option and will get Wabasha reopened to traffic more quickly, a spokeswoman said.
A gabion wall is a retaining wall made of stacked rocks held in place by wire mesh. The finished wall is expected to be 12 feet tall and 9 feet thick.
"Construction of a gabion wall achieves the City's objectives of reopening Wabasha Street quickly, safely and cost effectively," said Kathy Lantry, St. Paul Public Works director. "In addition, this less-invasive solution protects the public and roadway from natural erosion of the bluff without the risk of further destabilizing the bluff or drastically impacting the private properties adjacent to the roadway."