This past weekend, for the first time since February, eastbound drivers on the stretch of Valley View Road between Edenvale Boulevard and Bent Creek Golf Course could use eastbound lanes.
Orange and white traffic barrels were gone on both sides of the regional trail bridge that spans the arterial road. Heavy construction equipment and work crews that had upgraded the passage of Purgatory Creek underneath the Minnesota River Bluffs LRT Regional Trail had moved on.
The delicate mission of upgrading the old stream culvert and drilling a new partner culvert next to it was completed when a seed mix of slope stabilizing grasses and wildflowers and protective matting were laid out. Heavy backhoes, front loaders and hard hats had worked the area between Valley View and the creek.
The project, which began in 2020, needed to respect the clear flow of the stream, rainfall gushers, rush hour traffic and the calendars of the stream’s aquatic critters. The project was planned, funded and supervised by the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA). The agency owns the trail corridor.
The result – a regional trail that won’t crumble into the creek and … a happier creek. The new culvert’s opening on the upstream side of the 39-foot-high trail embankment is a few feet higher than the restored older culvert and Purgatory Creek’s normal levels. When it floods, the new partner culvert will accommodate higher stream flows. Both carry Purgatory into Bent Creek Golf Course near the 18th hole tee boxes.
Kristine Stehly, the project’s supervising engineer, explains that the mat of concrete hollow blocks lining the banks above and around the two openings will enable vegetation to re-establish. The mat will also prevent erosion and washouts of the steep embankment. Natural rocks were also placed in the creek’s approach and the restored culvert’s floor to provide a natural bed for fish.
The HCRRA and the project’s contractor have yet to tally the project’s final cost. The original contract, according to Stehly, was signed for $601,775.50.
“We would like to thank everyone’s patience and understanding as we worked to get this project complete,” Stehly said. “People who live in the area and use the Minnesota River Bluffs LRT Trail will continue to enjoy a safe traveling experience.”
Read EPLN’s September 3, 2021 story on the project here.
The Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority owns six abandoned railroad corridors that cradle the Minnesota River Bluffs LRT Regional Trail, the Lake Minnetonka LRT Regional Trail and the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis. For more information click here.
Editor’s note: Writer Jeff Strate serves on the EPLN Board of Directors.