West River Parkway opening delayed

Workers continue to clean up a section of West River Parkway south of the Interstate 35W Bridge. The parkway is set to open as early as later this week.

Marija Majerle

Workers continue to clean up a section of West River Parkway south of the Interstate 35W Bridge. The parkway is set to open as early as later this week.

While traffic is once again flowing across the Mississippi River on the Interstate 35W bridge, traffic below the bridge and along the river have yet to return to normal with the continued closure of part of West River Parkway . The parkway, which includes a road and bordering biking and walking trails, will not open for at least a few more days. On Monday, Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Gutknecht said the parkway would open sometime between later this week and next week. Nick Eoloff, a project manager with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, however, said it might open sometime between the end of the month and early October. Workers are resurfacing the road and trails, and the University is completing pipe work at a steam plant near the parkway, Gutknecht said. Work is also still being done on the underside of the I-35W bridge. MnDOT had previously said in a press release that the bridge and the parkway would open at the same time , but the bridge has been in use since Sept. 18 . Gutknecht said he knows commuters are eagerly awaiting the roadâÄôs opening, which allows them to avoid the congestion of Washington Avenue and the Seven Corners area. But MnDOT wants to make sure it completes all necessary repairs before opening it up. âÄúWaiting a few days now is probably better than opening it, then having to close it, then open and close it,âÄù Gutknecht said. âÄúPeople donâÄôt like that.âÄù He said he was unsure if the road and bike trails would open at the same time. A little over half a mile of West River Parkway, from 22nd Avenue South to 13th Avenue South , remains closed off. The closure has been a âÄúbig inconvenience,âÄù Eoloff said. âÄúPeople had to take alternate routes, and I think for both commuters and travelers in the parkway, it delayed their travel time,âÄù he said. It has also negatively affected recreational bikers and walkers who used the parkway to get to places like Minnehaha Park , Eoloff said. The Bohemian Flats area, a piece of parkland just north of the Washington Avenue Bridge between West River Parkway and the Mississippi River, isnâÄôt expected to open for many months. The National Transportation Safety Board continues to use the area as a temporary holding place for the twisted steel remains of the old I-35W bridge. The pieces still there are the ones the NTSB chose for more close study. Gutknecht said he expects the NTSB to give the pieces of the bridge to MnDOT for removal from the site after it releases the results of its bridge investigation, which he expects to happen around November. Meanwhile, the closure of West River Parkway continues to inconvenience area residents. Physics graduate student Sean Bartz bikes to campus from his home in Loring Park . The first-year student said his first attempt to get to campus from home was thwarted by his discovery of the closed road. As a result of the blocked bike trail, Bartz takes Hennepin Avenue through downtown and then either the Stone Arch or the Third Avenue bridge, he said. He said he anticipates the route will make for an easier commute.