MnDOT wants to further stabilize riverbank that failed 10 years ago

It's been a decade since the slope along the Red Lake River failed just off West Sixth Street in Crookston, eventually leading to the demolition of several houses and the Motel Country Club.

With the area since being developed into a green space featuring natural grasses – with a shelter and memorial bench being the most recent additions – chances are that most Crookston residents really aren't concerning themselves with any worries about continued slope instability along the river in that area.

But the Minnesota Department of Transportation remains concerned about the long-term stability of the soil along the riverbank, especially with a major transportation artery, U.S. Highway 2, so close by.

So MnDOT is financing a project to further stabilize it. According to information provided by the District 2 MnDOT office in Bemidji, the Crookston project is slated to begin in the summer of 2014 between Groveland Avenue and Pine Street.

"It has not currently affected the safety of the road surface, but it has the potential to in the future, project manager Jim Bittmann said of the September 2003 landslide.

MnDOT is using a "design-build" process for this project. "A benefit with using the design-build method is that it streamlines the process," explained Bittmann. "It allows the project to start much sooner than with design-bid-build method by bringing designers and contractors together earlier in the process."

T.J. Melcher of the District 2 MnDOT office said it's difficult to nail down a lot of details about the project at this juncture of a design-build process because this approach gives the contractors seeking to do the project some options.

"Each contractor could theoretically come up with their own plan," Melcher told the Times. "MnDOT has identified a possible fix, by drilling shafts, but it's not necessarily what the contractors will come up with. It's part of the process. We'll get the contractor plans, then we'll evaluate the cost, remedy itself, and timelines."

Crookston Interim City Administrator/Public Works Director Pat Kelly said the project will likely be pretty substantial, with large cranes being utilized to hold the boring equipment if the "caisson stabilization" method is chosen. He said his primary concern is that, whatever method is chosen, it does not impact West Sixth Street itself.

Five consultants are currently working to design their own fix within the parameters that MnDOT has defined for project success. The department will then select the consultant that provides the best overall value.

"By using consultants to help design the project they ultimately will construct, it allows for more efficiency throughout the process and possibly a solution that our engineers may not have thought of," said Bittmann.

Details on the project can be found at