Mudslide repairs begin after lack of funds

Crews began work more than a year after earth and rubble tumbled near the U’s hospital.

Minneapolis resident Jonathan Parish and his son, Jayden, view the damaged slope above West River Parkway on Monday afternoon. The area was affected by a mudslide last June and is being repaired this month.

James Healy

Minneapolis resident Jonathan Parish and his son, Jayden, view the damaged slope above West River Parkway on Monday afternoon. The area was affected by a mudslide last June and is being repaired this month.

Youssef Rddad

Repairs to the river bluff below the University of Minnesota Medical Center are underway after a mudslide brought 4,000 cubic yards of dirt and debris onto West River Parkway last year. The parkway has been closed for more than a year following the massive landslide caused by heavy rains. Bike, foot and car traffic should resume when the repairs, which started last week, are completed on Oct. 31. Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board officials said the $6 million repairs took more than a year to begin because the board didnâÄôt have enough funding. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover 75 percent of the repairsâÄô costs, and the remaining 25 percent will be covered by the state, according to a Park Board project report. âÄúThey have pretty strict guidelines we have to follow,âÄù project manager and landscape architect Deborah Bartels said. âÄúTheyâÄôre very concerned that we do things right.âÄù Under state and FEMA guidelines, Bartels said, several requirements needed to be met in order to receive funding, including approval from the State Historic Preservation Office and inspection of the affected area to begin contract bids. âÄúWe want to make sure this is a long-lasting repair,âÄù Bartels said. Bartels said launching the repairs this week will be slow because workers have to receive approval for repair materials and clear a space at the top of the hill to make room to work âÄî including space for a crane, which will begin to be used in early August. The board plans to erect five walls up to 13 feet tall at the bottom and top of the slope at the suggestion of Barr Engineering, an engineering firm overseeing the design and construction of the project, said design and project management director of MPRB Cliff Swenson. Fairview Health Services spokeswoman Jennifer Amundson said the hospital is not concerned about possible disruptions from the four-month construction project. âÄúWeâÄôre pleased the work is started, and weâÄôre looking forward to it being completed,âÄù Amundson said. âÄúMost of what is in sight of the area is office, so there wouldnâÄôt be any patient rooms facing that side.âÄù The slope is partially owned by both Fairview and the Park Board. Preventing slope failure The mudslide occurred after a heavy rainfall in June. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 11.36 inches of rain fell on the Twin Cities that month âÄî slightly short of the 141-year-old record of 11.67 inches. âÄúThese events are generally quite hard to predict,âÄù University of Minnesota earth sciences professor Chris Paola said. Hennepin CountyâÄôs Director of Emergency Management Eric Waage said the University, the county and government agencies are working on a study to address the integrity of mudslide-prone slopes. âÄúWe donâÄôt know exactly what the mechanics are of slope failures in Hennepin County. We think because of this study we will have a good handle on it shortly,âÄù Waage said. Last spring there was an increase in slope failures in Minnesota following a wet spring, Waage said.