Eroded slope that closed Coon Rapids trail to be repaired

A contract has been awarded by the Anoka County Board for a project to repair an eroded slope which has closed the Mississippi River Regional Trail in Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park.

The earth on the west side the Mississippi River Regional Trail at the south end of the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park washed away down a 20-foot slope into the Pleasure Creek flood plain earlier this summer forcing the Anoka County Parks and Recreation Department to close the trail where it links up with 86th Avenue NW in Coon Rapids. The Anoka County Board has awarded a contract to stabilize the bank so the trail can be re-opened, probably in mid-October. File photo

The earth on the west side the Mississippi River Regional Trail at the south end of the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park washed away down a 20-foot slope into the Pleasure Creek flood plain earlier this summer forcing the Anoka County Parks and Recreation Department to close the trail where it links up with 86th Avenue NW in Coon Rapids. The Anoka County Board has awarded a contract to stabilize the bank so the trail can be re-opened, probably in mid-October. File photo

Heavy rains in May and June washed away a bank along the trail by Pleasure Creek, posing a safety hazard on the trail and to its users.

That prompted the Anoka County Parks Department to shut down the trail in July in an area at the southeast end of the regional park and detour trail users on to Coon Rapids city streets and along East River Road.

An erosion control project using state legacy dollars had been planned in that area of the trail in 2014, but the damage to the slope and undermining of the trail forced the county into an immediate project to repair the damage and get the trail back open again.

The county board took emergency action to award a contract by taking quotes, rather than going through the normal bidding process, because the slope stabilization needs to take place as soon as possible.

Five quotes were received with Rachel Contracting quoting the lowest price of $91,400.

“The trail should be back open by mid-October,” said John VonDeLinde, county parks and recreation director.

“The closure of the trail has been an inconvenience to the many users.”

In this area of the trail, there is retaining wall on the east side to separate the trail from residences with a steep slope on the other side of the trail down to the Pleasure Creek flood plain.

A portion of that very steep slope washed away into the flood plain in the area of 86th Avenue, VonDeLinde said.

There is about a 20-foot slope, he said.

“Some 360 cubic yards of slope failed and washed down to the Pleasure Creek watershed,” VonDeLinde said.

This was a significant washout, but the dollars are in place to make the improvement, said County Commissioner Jim Kordiak, chairperson of the county’s Park and Recreation Committee.

The Pleasure Creek watershed is now part of the Coon Creek Watershed District and that agency provided engineering and design services on the project at no cost to the county, according to VonDeLinde said.

No county dollars will be spent on the repair work either because the county will be tapping into the legacy grant funds, VonDeLinde said.

This will be the first of  a two-phase erosion control project in that area of the park.

The county is planning to use some $230,000 in approved state legacy dollars in 2014 for stabilization work on the slope that abuts the trail along the length of the retaining wall, some 200 to 250 feet, VonDeLinde said.

“We are seeing erosion taking place in that area and we want to stabilize the slope before any more washouts occur and the trail has to be closed again,” he said.

The existing trail was built in 1995 on what VonDeLinde described as a very narrow strip of property between the retaining and the slope.

“It has held up a pretty long time,” he said.

For Anoka County, the 2013 Minnesota Legislature appropriated $1,443,000 in legacy dollars for the first year of the 2013-2015 biennium and $1,455,000 for the second year for a series of projects in the parks and trails system, one of them being restoration, including erosion repair, along Pleasure Creek and the regional trail in the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park.

Even though the state parks and trail legacy dollars were earmarked for the project in 2014, the funds were technically available for spending as of July 1 this year, according to Karen Blaska, county park planner.

Typical practice is to wait until the grant agreements with the Metropolitan Council, which administers the state park and trail legacy dollars, are fully executed before spending any of the money, but the county does not expect to receive the agreements until September or October which is too late to address this issue, Blaska wrote in a report to the county’s Parks and Recreation Committee.

“The Met Council has confirmed the county can expend these funds after July 1, 2013 and will be reimbursed for those expenditures related to the project,” she wrote.

The parks and legacy dollars come from the state sales tax increase that was passed by Minnesota voters in 2008 when they approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to the state constitution. In the Twin Cities area, the funds are targeted at parks and trails projects that have a regional or statewide significance.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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