Highland Bridge

Project Details

  • CRWD funding: $1,721,063
  • Water body: Mississippi River
  • Area drainage: 122 acres
  • Water treated each year: 64 million gals.
  • Phosphorus removed each year: 145 lbs.

Highland Bridge is a new community in Saint Paul at the site of the former Ford Assembly Plant. 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. 

The Highland Bridge community is a beautiful landmark atop a once-industrial stretch of our precious Mississippi River bluffs. Treated stormwater fills the central water feature, flowing to the re-imagined Hidden Falls Creek before emerging at the new Mississippi Boulevard Crossing, tumbling over its namesake falls, and ending at the Mississippi River. The water is surrounded by paths, rain gardens, and inviting nature stretches. All are enhanced with expansive vistas from the river bluffs.  

The Challenge

Before redevelopment, stormwater runoff from the 122-acre site primarily drained to Hidden Falls Creek, which flows to the Mississippi River. The hard surfaces like roofs and parking lots at the site sent runoff downstream without treatment. 

"After years of careful planning, it is wonderful to see this one-of-a-kind project become a reality. Many projects don't end up as grand as their original plans, but Highland Bridge far exceeds what even the ambitious plans showed." - Bob Fossum, Monitoring and Research Division Manager for CRWD

The Solution 

The new shared stormwater systems at Highland Bridge will capture and clean 64 million gallons of runoff annually, preventing an estimated 28 tons of total suspended solids and 147 pounds of phosphorus from entering the Mississippi River each year.  

Sustainable Stormwater Management for Highland Bridge

Sustainable stormwater management improves water as it flows through Highland Bridge into Hidden Falls and the Mississippi River. We created a map to show the Sustainable Stormwater Management for Highland Bridge, PDF linked below. The blue arrows on the site map illustrate how water flows to the water features, rain gardens and underground stormwater treatment areas.

Shared Green Infrastructure 

The City of Saint Paul and CRWD planned for a comprehensive stormwater management approach and a reimagined Hidden Falls Creek, eliminating the need for individual treatment systems scattered across the site. This method, known as shared, stacked green infrastructure, reduces the overall cost of managing stormwater on the site while adding beauty, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities. 

Regional Stormwater Treatment 

The Highland Bridge community benefits from a shared regional stormwater approach. Several large clean water practices, both at the surface and underground, 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, filtration chambers, and extensive rain gardens.  

Gateway Park in the northwest corner of the site, on the map between Ford Parkway and Bohland Avenue, 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.

Central Water Feature and Hidden Falls Creek 

The central water feature receives filtered stormwater before flowing south to the reimagined Hidden Falls Creek. Both offer recreational opportunities for visitors, provide habitat for wildlife, and add beauty to the site. 

The central water feature, on the map from Bohland Avenue and running south to Montreal Avenue, receives water from the underground stormwater treatment system and the surrounding site.

Mississippi Boulevard Crossing 

The reimagined Hidden Falls Creek flows to Hidden Falls Regional Park and over the existing Hidden Falls through a 90-foot tunnel underneath Mississippi River Boulevard. Adjacent to the creek, a paved pedestrian and bike path follows the creek through the tunnel and ends at a plaza overlooking Hidden Falls. 

On the map, the reimagined Hidden Falls Creek begins south of Montreal Avenue and extends to the new crossing underneath Mississippi River Boulevard. The creek drains 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.

Sustainable Stormwater Management for Highland Bridge PDF


Combined, the stormwater systems at Highland Bridge will capture and clean 64 million gallons annually. This will prevent an estimated 28 tons of total suspended solids and 147 pounds of phosphorus from entering the Mississippi River each year. The projects protect the downstream Hidden Falls with a 98% reduction in peak flows 

Before redevelopment, polluted runoff would travel to the river without any treatment. This project reduces total suspended solids by 94% and total phosphorus by 75%, a significant improvement for water quality. By cleaning and reusing stormwater in the central water feature, rain becomes a resource instead of a waste product. 

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