Highland Bridge Redevelopment Updates
Highland Bridge, a new community in Saint Paul at the site of the former Ford Assembly Plant is one of the largest land tracts being redeveloped in the Twin Cities. The City of Saint Paul, master developer Ryan Companies, and partners like CRWD took the time to carefully plan energy, waste, transportation, landscape, and water needs for the new community.
Updates shared here will focus on the stormwater management system, central water feature, Hidden Falls Creek, and tunnel construction. A water resources related update will be shared here regularly during the 2021 construction season. It is anticipated that city parks and public open spaces, including the water features and most stormwater management will begin cleaning stormwater and be available for the community to enjoy in summer 2022. Please advance to the bottom of the page for the latest update.
Clean Water Projects and Amenities
Planning for Shared Green Infrastructure
The City of Saint Paul and CRWD planned for a comprehensive stormwater management approach and a re-creation of the historic Hidden Falls Creek, eliminating the need for individual treatment systems scattered across the site. This method – called shared, stacked green infrastructure – will reduce the overall cost of managing stormwater on the site while adding beauty, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities.
Regional Stormwater Treatment
The new Highland Bridge community will benefit from a shared regional stormwater approach. Several large clean water practices both at the surface and underground will capture and filter stormwater runoff from the 122-acre site to reuse in the central water feature and Hidden Falls Creek. The stormwater systems include underground storage and filtration chambers and several large rain gardens. Combined, the stormwater systems will capture and clean 64 million gallons annually, preventing an estimated 28 tons of total suspended solids and 147 pounds of phosphorus from entering the Mississippi River each year.
Central Water Feature and Hidden Falls Creek
The central water feature will receive filtered stormwater before flowing south to the reimagined Hidden Falls Creek. Both will offer recreational opportunities for visitors, provide wildlife habitat, and add beauty to the site.
Mississippi River Boulevard Tunnel
The reimagined Hidden Falls Creek will flow to Hidden Falls Regional Park through a 90-foot tunnel underneath Mississippi River Boulevard. Adjacent to the creek, a paved pedestrian and bike path will follow the creek through the tunnel and end at a plaza overlooking Hidden Falls.
Managing Stormwater During Construction
The Highland Bridge redevelopment will go beyond required treatments with the new stormwater management systems, water features and rain gardens. During the active construction period CRWD regulatory staff will inspect the site regularly and assist with any stormwater related issues or questions.
For all construction sites that are more than one-acre, CRWD issues permits to site owners and does regular inspections to ensure stormwater runoff does not negatively impact water quality in the District’s lakes, wetlands and the Mississippi River. Site owners install and maintain temporary measures to keep dirt in its place and prevent erosion. CRWD requires installation of permanent stormwater management systems to treat runoff after construction is complete.
Learn more about CRWD's Permitting Program
Work in 2020
In summer 2020, construction began at the new Highland Bridge Community. Initial construction phases included stormwater management systems, the central water feature and the Hidden Falls Creek channel.
2020 concluded with completion of nearly all the underground stormwater management systems and partial completion of the central water feature and Hidden Falls Creek.
Work in 2021
Project Update May 11, 2021
This week construction began on the Mississippi River Boulevard tunnel. Hidden Falls Creek currently flows beneath the road in a storm sewer pipe before reaching Hidden Falls Regional Park. Crews began excavating the 90-foot tunnel under Mississippi River Boulevard. The tunnel is expected to be substantially completed by summer 2022.
Construction continues for the central water feature, Hidden Falls Creek and the surrounding spaces. These features will be completed in 2021, including soil stabilization and plantings.
Project Update July 15, 2021
Construction continues for clean water projects and water amenities at Highland Bridge redevelopment, review the latest updates below.
Biofiltration basins were installed in the new Gateway Park at the north end of the site, along Ford Parkway. The basins will look like rain gardens on the surface, but below the plants and soil there is iron enhanced sand and drainage pipes to help remove pollutants before the water flows to the central water feature, the re-imagined Hidden Falls Creek and ultimately the Mississippi River.
Underground filtration chambers around the site will provide paved pathways for pedestrians while stormwater is cleaned below. How does it work? Rainwater that falls on the site is piped to large underground chambers, the water is then released through the filter system before it flows to the central water feature and Hidden Falls Creek.
Rocks and plantings are being added around the central water feature. Public access points and a pedestrian bridge can also be seen along the water’s edge. The water in the central water feature is clear and clean due to the filtration system and proper erosion and sediment control measures during construction.
The re-imagined Hidden Falls Creek channel and 90-foot tunnel underneath Mississippi River Boulevard are being excavated out of the limestone bedrock at the south end of the development. The re-imagined creek channel and tunnel will connect the Highland Bridge site to Hidden Falls Regional Park. Water flowing to the existing Hidden Falls is being diverted during construction and stored in the new creek channel. Plastic sheeting prevents erosion until the project is complete.
Project Update January 2022
By the end of 2021, the majority of the planned water features were nearing completion. The projected opening of parks and public open spaces is later in 2022.
We created a map to show the Sustainable Stormwater Management for Highland Bridge, left and PDF linked below. When completed, the project will improve water as it flows through Highland Bridge into Hidden Falls and the Mississippi River. The blue arrows on the site map illustrate how stormwater will flow to the water features, rain gardens and underground stormwater treatment areas.
The central water feature, on the map from Bohland Avenue and running south to Montreal Avenue, will receive water from the underground stormwater treatment system and the surrounding site.
The reimagined Hidden Falls Creek begins south of Montreal Avenue and extends to the new crossing underneath Mississippi River Boulevard. The creek will drain water from the central water feature and surrounding rain gardens and landscaping before flowing to its namesake falls and through Hidden Falls Regional Park to the Mississippi River.
The new Gateway Park in the northwest corner of the site has large biofiltration basins. The basins look like rain gardens, but below the plants and soil there are drainage pipes and iron enhanced sand to remove dissolved phosphorus, a pollutant in the water that fuels algae growth. Iron filings mixed into sand create a bond with phosphorus, removing it from the water before it drains to the Mississippi River. The park will receive water from parts of Mount Curve Boulevard and Bohland Avenue and the surrounding area.