West River/James I. Rice Parkway Trail Improvement Project Update

The West River/James I. Rice Parkway Trail Improvement project has been bid; three were received. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) are in the process of evaluating the apparent low bid. If the bid meets all requirements, construction is expected to begin sometime in September 2014. Projected completion is in the summer of 2015. Construction will begin at the south end of the project area at Franklin Avenue. Trail detours will be posted and the construction schedule will be updated regularly on the project web page or by going to www.minneapolisparks.org/currentprojects, and selecting West River/James I. Rice Parkway Trail Improvements.

As the construction drawings were developed and the concept for the trails was brought into line with the budget available, some adjustments to the concept plan were made and some items identified by the Community Advisory Committee as lower priority project components were eliminated.

James I. Rice Parkway Trail:

  • At the parking lot just south of Plymouth Avenue, the trail connection requested by the North Loop Neighborhood Association from the Star Tribune building to the east side of the James I. Rice Parkway was eliminated. (The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board does not own the property east of the parkway in this area.)
  • The Cedar Lake Regional Trail intersection with the parkway will be improved with ADA-compliant ramps and a Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacon which can be activated for safer crossing of the parkway.
  • The River Goddess sculpture, located within a newly aligned segment of the trail across from the Federal Reserve building, will be relocated and modified. Several of the smaller pre-cast fossils will be installed under the sand surfacing in the 4th Ave NE Playground for children to discover. Three of the four boulder formations and the two larger pre-cast concrete fossils will be moved riverward of their existing locations. The southernmost boulder formation, which is crumbling, will be eliminated.
  • The two raised seating platforms and a seating area with low walls, located riverward of the Post Office, will be demolished to improve sight lines and safety.
  • The bicycle and pedestrian trail connection to the Stone Arch Bridge will be improved and the southernmost driveway of the parking lot near Portland will be eliminated.

West River Parkway Trail:

  • The existing plank trail opposite the Mill City Museum will be repaired; severely warped and rotted planks will be replaced.
  • The separated concrete pedestrian trail, proposed for the southern end of Mill Ruins Park opposite the Guthrie, has been eliminated due to cost.
  • MnDOT approved the width and alignment of the existing trail width opposite Gold Medal Park. The trail will be reconstructed in its existing alignment with no increase in width.
  • A trailhead with a kiosk and drinking fountain is added to the south end of Bohemian Flats.
  • A 12’ wide combined use (pedestrian and bicycle) asphalt trail will be constructed between Bohemian Flats and South 4th Street, in lieu of two separated trails. Space for separate trails is available, but a combined trail in this segment was more affordable.

Across from Riverside Park and south of the mudslide area, in a narrow strip of parkland between the existing paths and the river wall, the MPRB would have liked to install a retaining wall with safety fence to support the new combined path and the required safety zones.  However, the estimate for the wall did not fit within the allotted funding.  The solution was to construct a 2:1 slope with a safety fence.  To construct the slope, all vegetation and trees will be cleared.  The new slope will be seeded to native grasses and wildflowers, but, given the limited access for equipment, maintenance staff will not be able to mow the slope and will have to use other measures to maintain the area.

Due to budget constraints, all tree planting for the project between Portland and Franklin Avenues was eliminated.  The MPRB will work with MPRB’s Forestry department and local not-for-profits to seek additional funds for tree planting.

The improvements to the Franklin Avenue intersection with West River Parkway were eliminated from the project scope due to budget constraints.

Please contact Deb Bartels, MPRB Planning Project Manager, at dbartels@minneapolisparks.org or (612) 230-6438 with any questions.