Drawdown of the St. Anthony Pool

This sounds pretty cool. The water above the dam in downtown Minneapolis will be lowered 13 feet on Feb 20th. More info at Friends of the Mississippi River.

Drawdown of the St. Anthony Pool
Wed., Feb. 20, noon-2 p.m.
Stone Arch Bridge, Minneapolis
Pre-registration required, see below

Come take advantage of this rare opportunity to see the Mississippi River at St. Anthony Falls lower than it has been for over 20 years!

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be drawing down the river about 13 feet between Upper and Lower St. Anthony Falls locks and dams. The Corps is conducting the drawdown, which they do every 20 years, to facilitate a tunnel inspection. Taking advantage of this opportunity, Friends of the Mississippi River and the National Park Service will offer an interpretive tour of the Mississippi River at St. Anthony Falls.

John Anfinson and Dave Wiggins, from the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, a unit of the National Park Service, will lead a walking tour of the area. Starting on the Stone Arch Bridge overlooking the river, John and Dave will discuss the site’s historical significance, provide an overview of the lock and dam’s construction, and identify important points of interest exposed by the lower water level. The tour will head across the bridge to Mill Ruins Park where participants will get a close look at the exposed river bottom. National Park Service rangers will also be in the area to answer questions throughout the day.

If you are interested in attending this tour, please sign up in advance with Friends of the Mississippi River at spt[at]fmr.org or 651/222-2193 ext. 16.

Please include your name, full contact information and the number in your party. It is imperative we be able to reach you in case of weather-related changes; for this purpose, consider including your personal and work e-mail addresses

Lowering the River Gorge Water Levels

I was talking to a friend last weekend about how different the Mississippi River Gorge would be if the Ford Dam was removed, returning the water levels to something closer to their natural levels. As I understand it, this would unveil long submerged islands and rapids.

One side effect of the I-35W bridge collapse will be a lowering of the water levels downstream from the falls, which should lead to a lowering throughout the gorge:

Drawing down the water

Later this afternoon, the US Army Corps of Engineers is going to lower the water level of the river by two feet in the area of the bridge collapse.

After the initial investigation is done, the Corps will open the roller gates at the Ford dam (i.e. Lock&Dam #1), dropping the level of the pool and giving emergency workers and investigators better access to the wreckage.

I’m curious to see what that’s going to unveil.

Help Nathan Help the Mississippi River

Mr. Life by the Falls, Nathan, is doing the Mississippi River Challenge Canoe tour in a few weeks and has a goal of raising $400 to support Friends of the Mississippi River. FMR is a great group that works on things like water quality issues, removing non-native plant species from the river gorge, and generally protecting the watershed district.

You can read more about FMR’s priorities on their site.

Read about Nathan’s plan for the trip and check out some cool photos he has from a previous canoe trip through the gorge and lock & dam. And find his online donor page here.

Update on Proposed Bike Bridge Over Mississippi

Friends of the Mississippi River has an article on the proposed bridge over the Mississippi River gorge at approximately 27th St E near the current railroad bridge.

As I understand it, the owners of the railroad bridge are not interested in sharing the bridge with pedestrians. There is certainly room on the bridge for both trains and pedestrians, and a bridge that supports a train can surely support a lot of people on bikes.

So, the county, with federal dollars, is considering building a bridge next to the railroad bridge. When I first heard about this at a Longfellow Community meeting in the winter, the proposed cost was in the $10 million range. FMR cites a $12 price tag in their article.

The proposed bridge would be a suspension bridge spanning the gorge with no entry into the river. Apparently, this is done to prevent having to make “barge proof” poles.

Personally, I think the bridge would do a great job improving the network of trails in the Twin Cities. Over time, this bridge would connect the Midtown Greenway to proposed trails in St. Paul that would run down Ayd Mill Road, connecting to the 35E bridge toward the Southern Burbs and with the Gateway Trail that heads out through Maplewood, North St. Paul and Stillwater.

FMR lays out their case for opposing the bridge here. They make a good case. Some points are kind of weak, such as comparing the cost of the bridge with the cost of paving the rest of the trail. Of course the bridge will be a lot more money. That’s the nature of bridges. Personally, I’d like to see someone figure out a way to use the current railroad bridge since it would probably be cheaper, is already aligned with the trail, and avoids building additional structures in the gorge.