The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has approved a $1 million contract to add walking paths, catwalk and a bridge to the Mill Ruins Park tailraces below St. Anthony Falls.
L.S. Black Constructors Inc. should start work in May, said Rachel Ramadhyani, project manager. The new paths should open to the public in October.
Park planners had to "nip and tuck" the budget, she said. The low bid last fall exceeded $1.3 million, or 35 percent over budget. At the time, Ramadhyani said the building boom in China had increased steel prices. The Park Board rejected the bids and looked for ways to save money.
Mill Ruins Park opened in 2001 along the Mississippi River's west bank next to St. Anthony Falls, interpreting the city's former milling district. The Park Board is doing phased improvements.
The new walking paths will bring park visitors in close contact with the old mill foundations and the tailraces, or discharge canals. The tailraces returned the water to the river below the falls after the flow had powered the mills.
The path system will include industrial-style catwalk with grated decks through which visitors can view the rushing water. Accent lights will illuminate portions of the mill foundations for night viewing. Improvements also include benches, landscaping and interpretive signs.
To save money, the Park Board will use fiberglass decking for the catwalks instead of steel. It reduced the width of the main bridge across the tailrace from 14 to 10 feet, also to reduce the amount of steel. It eliminated a stadium-step seating area, designed for interpretive performances and informal seating.