Muckraking on West River Parkway

A lot of magic can happen in nine months: A woman can create life. A child can pass through puberty (well, sort of). A Vikings team can win a Super Bowl. But to make West River Parkway safe again for traffic? Unfortunately it will take well over a year.

It wasn’t originally supposed to be so. News reports following the June 2014 rain-induced mudslide suggested that the road between Franklin Avenue and Fourth Street would likely remain closed, “for a few days until the debris can be cleared.” But the road, which carried 10,000 bicycle and car commuters a day from South Minneapolis to downtown, has remained closed, making original reports a bit humorous in retrospect.

The mudslide sent a 100-yard swatch of the hill below the University of Minnesota Medical Center onto the road, leaving it covered in six to eight feet of mud. In the weeks following, the buildings above were tested and found structurally sound. Authorities then said the road would be closed until the Fall of 2014. Then, it became Spring of 2015 and the parkway is still closed.

So, overcome with spring fever a few weeks ago, I sent my city council member, Cam Gordon, an email inquiry. No response. What did they find in them-thar mud-covered hills? Remnants of Cold War era biological experiments?

Then last week, the city put out a survey asking for citizen input into the design. Great! Except now, we learn that the work hasn’t even been bid out yet — and won’t begin until June. And, it’ll take about “three to four months,” or “until repairs are complete.”

I know. Rome wasn’t built in a day. And the ash on Pompeii wasn’t cleared in… ever? I’m just hoping the city/park board could find a way to create a narrow passage through this 100-yard stretch so that at least bikes and pedestrians could travel through this summer while work is being done on the hill above.

West River Parkway

About Paul Strebe

Paul is a Twin Cities-based healthcare consultant with an interest in healthy communities and aging issues. He lives with his wife and daughters in the South Minneapolis neighborhood of Cooper. He tweets at @paul_klared