Three Rivers plans bridge over busy Plymouth intersection

Patrons who frequent the Luce Line Trail through Plymouth may have found it difficult to cross a traffic-filled Xenium Lane with no stop sign, no stoplights and little separating them from the whizzing cars on the four-lane street. Three Rivers Park District is doing something about it.

Construction of an over-the-road pedestrian bridge is to begin this summer and is projected to be completed summer 2014.

Three Rivers queued the Luce Line crossing at Xenium as a top priority following a study of potentially dangerous trail crossings throughout the district’s 130 miles of regional trails.

“It’s a four-lane road, and it’s at an intersection without a stop light or stop sign,” said Three Rivers Associate Superintendent of Planning, Design and Technology Jonathan Vlaming. “The average daily traffic flow at that road is quite high, and it’s just not an ideal crossing situation.”

The 930×12-foot proposed bridge will allow pedestrians to safely cross Xenium Lane in an enclosure above the traffic.

Vlaming said the 8.2-mile section of the Luce Line that Three Rivers owns sees roughly 325,000 visits a year, most of which are bicyclists. The segment turns into the Luce Line State Trail at Vicksburg Lane and leads west to Hutchinson. To the east, the trail connects with the Grand Rounds in Minneapolis.

“If you wanted to, you could hop on the Luce Line on you bicycle and bike over to the Grand Rounds and head straight into downtown,” Vlaming said. “So you can use it as a commute route as well.”

In light of the high use of the trail, Three Rivers worked with Hennepin County to determine the best solution for the Xenium crossing. The resolution was to build a prefabricated steel truss bridge structure to allow for uninterrupted and safe trail usage.

The bridge is projected to cost around $2.5 million, and the district has yet to bid the project out. Three Rivers received a $1 million federal transportation grant for construction and the county and Metropolitan Council will contribute a combined $880,000.

With the help of the grants, Three Rivers’ budget impact is projected to be roughly $620,000.

Due to the construction, the trail will be closed at the crossing beginning Labor Day, and a detour has been laid out for use during construction.

Vlaming said he doesn’t expect construction to effect traffic on Xenium, which gets high usage during peak traffics hours.

“I don’t believe construction will impact traffic flow too bad,” he said. “Typically when we build bridges we do all the side work and then we place the bridge. So there’s not actually in-road work.”

After work is completed on the joints of the bridge, one or two cranes will hoist the prefabricated steel truss into place. Vlaming expects this to take place in one night; meaning Xenium would only be closed for a limited time.

The idea is to make the Luce Line a more friendly and accessible trail for patrons using it through Plymouth.

“The goal is simply to provide for trail safety,” Vlaming said. “We want to have a safe experience for bikers and for families who are out on the trial.”

As part of the study, Three Rivers also identified a crossing at County Road 19 on the border of Tonka Bay and Shorewood that will see a similar bridge constructed. Vlaming said that bridge would be built one year after the Xenium bridge on Lake Minnetonka LRT Regional Trail.