The delay in receipt of a required safety fence has Kristine Stehly checking her email daily.
Stehly is the project manager for the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority who is coordinating the re-opening of Minnesota River Bluffs LRT Regional Trail between Pioneer Trail and Great Plains Boulevard (101).
Originally closed in 2014 due to heavy rains which destabilized the former railroad embankment the trail reopening was near completion in November of 2020.
Then, COVID complications hit at the fencing manufacturer.
The fencing manufacturer, American Fencing, Kansas City, is citing COVID-19 as the reason for a delay in receipt of the vinyl-coated fencing bordering the trail, said Stehly.
“Any day now,” said Stehly, noting installation of the fence will take a “week or two.”
The fencing is not continuous and will include 6-foot and 4-foot high sections depending on the slope of the trail and the slope of the embankment.
The area of the repair includes a widening and lowering of the trail from the original steep embankment. “If it was being built today it wouldn’t have been built the way it originally was,” noted Stehly.
As part of the embankment stabilization, the trail has been widened and “lowered by over 20 feet” said Stehly.
The 4-foot high section will be used where the trail embankment repair provides an overlook to the south towards a church and ValleyFair amusement park in Shakopee, said Stehly.
The fence is for “safety reasons,” said Stehly who is cautiously optimistic that a “quiet open” can still happen in December of 2020.
“Cross your fingers, the fence will come in,” Stehly said.
One part of trail reopening, another part of trail likely to close
Unfortunately, noted Stehly, even as the section of the trail between Pioneer and Great Plains Boulevard is expected to open soon, another section of the Minnesota River Bluffs LRT Regional Trail in Eden Prairie is likely to close.
Stehly anticipates additional project work, due to a destabilized culvert due to detached culvert wingwalls near Prairie View Road, will likely necessitate another closure of a section of the trail for repair.
A repair without closing the trail may be possible. However, direct access to the trail for repair work is more complicated when property owners adjacent to the trail are involved, noted Stehly.
The goal is to complete the culvert work and reopen the trail area near Valley View Road this winter prior to the heavier summer use of the trail, said Stehly.