work underway on a water-discharge structure we designed for poor soil conditions
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engineering and environmental services for UMore Park

engineering and environmental services for UMore Park
University of Minnesota

helping redevelop a 5,000-acre property with a complex industrial history

The University of Minnesota Outreach, Research and Education (UMore) Park is a 5,000-acre property 25 miles southeast of the Twin Cities. The University's vision for the site is to build a community of 20,000 to 30,000 people over the next two to three decades that will generate academic, economic, and environmental benefits. Barr has provided a variety of services to the University in support of the project’s focus on innovations in regional economic development, renewable energy, education, and the natural environment.

During World War II, this property was the site of a gunpowder plant owned by the War Department. Barr performed three large Phase I environmental site assessments at or near the site for the University and a Phase II investigation of the western third of the property, and we recently completed a work plan for the Phase II investigation of the eastern two thirds (approximately 3,500 acres) that were the heart of the former Gopher Ordnance Works production areas. The study will examine more than 60 sites of concern and hundreds of sample locations. It represents the first comprehensive attempt to identify the extent and magnitude of contamination and assess the need for remedial actions.

On the western third of the property, Barr conducted extensive groundwater, surface water, and environmental investigations that helped the University prepare an Environmental Impact Statement to evaluate potential environmental impacts of gravel mining. We are currently working on a mining plan that will conserve water and reduce potential risks from chemical storage and are assisting the University’s mining partner with a mining permit application.

As part of a University-led wind-energy consortium, we helped obtain a grant from the Department of Energy to construct a 2.5-megawatt wind turbine on the eastern edge of the property. This will serve as a laboratory for improving the efficiency of next-generation turbines and provide hands-on training for students interested in wind-power careers. Barr’s role in the consortium is focused on geotechnical research for turbine foundations, and we worked for the wind contractor to complete the federal environmental assessment required for the project. 

The planning and implementation of such a large project requires input from numerous experts with knowledge of engineering and environmental science. Along with several other technical experts, community leaders, and University staff, Barr was asked to help develop a sustainability action plan to guide development at UMore Park. We also provided support for a public forum designed to gather community input and share the findings of the two-day workshop. Barr’s subject experts talked about topics such as sustainable water, solid waste, land use, wildlife ecology, and locally grown foods.