A long-closed section of West River Parkway should reopen by the end of the year, once post-mudslide repairs are far enough along.

That's the good news.

But the parkway will close nearby again next April for several months because of Hennepin County's continuing reconstruction of the Franklin Avenue Bridge. 

The mudslide last year has closed the parkway about .7-mile north of the Franklin bridge for 17 months, forcing some 6,900 motorists and 1,000 bikers who use it on a typical day to find new routes. Initially, the parkway was covered with 4,000 cubic yards of soil and debris.

The fix has been complicated by having two property owners, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and a nearby hospital complex, and the complexity of designing and constructing a permanent repair for a hillside that's steep and has somewhat fragile geology. Five new retaining walls are being constructed.

First, park officials gave a completion date of August, 2015, saying they didn't want to start the repair project last fall, and then let it sit during the freeze-thaw cycle over winter before resuming work last spring. When the board approved the repair concept in January, it was told the work would be done this fall. Then wet weather contributed to construction setbacks, and in September, the reopening date was pushed back until at least December.

But this week the Park Board felt construction of new retaining walls was far enough along to announce that the parkway and adjacent paths will open by the end of December.

There's a caveat. The Park Board announced that another closure of the parkway will be needed for four to eight weeks in late spring and early summer to complete construction.

Park officials will try to coordinate that closure with one planned by the county to start in April and last until early September for the county's work on the bridge.

A county spokesman said that most work on the bridge project to date has been below the roadway, and the work now will shift to replacing the roadway surface during 2016.