work underway on a water-discharge structure we designed for poor soil conditions
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West River Parkway landslide slope repair

West River Parkway landslide slope repair
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board

monitoring and stabilizing a slope failure provides safe parkway access

In June 2014, a record storm caused 10,000 square feet of the Mississippi River bluff in Minneapolis to fail, burying part of West River Parkway under 4,000 cubic yards of debris and soil and exposing several million dollars’ worth of hospital infrastructure. The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board hired Barr to monitor slope and infrastructure stability, design temporary and permanent slope stabilization, and observe construction.

Short- and long-term safety had to be carefully balanced with the need to reopen the parkway, which is an important link to downtown Minneapolis. We monitored slope and infrastructure stability continuously in real time, and our design incorporated low-vibration installation techniques to avoid triggering additional slides. Barr’s design integrated multiple elements—drainage, soil nails, and five retaining walls—to form a unified stabilization system. Slopes were rebuilt using structurally stable soil, and steep and transitional slopes used a vegetated slope-restoration system to reduce erosion and enhance soil strength.

Flexibility was a crucial aspect of final design and construction, and specifications for several structural elements were modified in the field to align with bedrock locations. One wall was offset to avoid disturbing a 100-year-old wall footing unearthed during excavation.

The parkway was reopened to commuters and cyclists. Despite weather-related setbacks and numerous challenges, the landslide repair project was completed on schedule, approximately $700,000 under budget, and with no interruption to hospital service.

In 2017, the project received an Engineering Excellence Grand Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Minnesota. It was also named one of Engineer News-Record Midwest’s best projects of 2017.