Repair work underway on Minnehaha Creek

Crews working to repair Minnehaha Creek, which was damaged by record flooding in 2014.

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District has begun to repair seven locations along the creek below Minnehaha Falls that were damaged by flooding in 2014.

The repairs, which began in December and will continue through the spring, are among 10 locations throughout the city where the creek is being repaired in a project funded by a $250,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Administration. As of mid-January, two sites immediately east and west of Interstate 35W have been completed and work is currently underway at a site just east of Lyndale Avenue in Tangletown.

Flooding in 2014, which was the wettest year in the Twin Cities since record keeping began in 1871, led to a record high for Lake Minnetonka causing Minnehaha Creek to hit record flow levels of 883 cubic feet per second and overwhelming the Gray’s Bay Dam for 83 days in a row, according to the watershed district.

That flooding caused more than $1 million of erosion damage in the watershed district, which destroyed wildlife habitat and washed away public recreation spaces.

The repairs are being made in coordination with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board‘s Minnehaha Regional Trail Master Plan. Early concepts for those plans were released Jan. 31 and are being presented at a series of Southwest Area Master Plan open house meetings, including one Feb. 7 at Whittier Recreation Center, 425 W. 26th Street, and Feb. 12 at the Jones-Harrison Residence, 3700 Cedar Lake Avenue. Both meetings are from 6-8 p.m. and include children’s activities.

Draft plans for the area between France and Lake Harriet for maintained natural surface trails connecting to the creek’s edge, adding overlooks to the Penn Avenue Bridge with stairs accessing the creek, a waterfront picnic area near Morgan Avenue with a shelter south of the tennis courts and a new pedestrian bridge at Morgan Avenue. West of Lake Harriet and east of Interstate 35W, draft plans call for the reconstruction of Lynnhurst Community Center with a new playground and wading pool, adding a new natural adventure playground and bike park along a daylighted stream that would connect Minnehaha Creek to Lake Harriet.