MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis officials say a slope failure prompted the closure of a trail and parkway along the Mississippi River near the University of Minnesota Wednesday.

According to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB), it was notified by the University of Minnesota at around 9:30 a.m. of the slope failure along the riverbank next to East River Parkway, which runs along the upper bluff above the slope.

The MPRB says the slope failure occurred between Washington Avenue and Arlington Street.

“Soil and debris sloughed off the upper bank and slid down the slope towards the river. At this time there has been no report of personal injuries or damage to the parkway, vehicles or nearby buildings,” the MPRB said.

The trail that runs along the upper bluff, which is directly adjacent to the slope failure, was damaged and closed. The parkway is also closed while the investigation takes place.

While it’s believed that heavy rain led to the slope failure, the area is going through a “full and thorough assessment.”

The area is prone to this sort of natural phenomenon. Five years ago, rain caused a mudslide on the west bank of the river near the Fairview-University Medical Center, closing the parkway for two years.

“You’ve got these really steep bluffs and when you get a lot of rain like we have had over the past couple of days, the bluff will start to lose its cohesion and the soil will slide,” said Patrick Nunnally of the U of M River Life program.

Both park board staff and a geotechnical consultant will be on-site to complete an initial safety assessment. The mudslide happened very close to the Green Line of the Light Rail, which runs to and from the University of Minnesota campus. Concerns about the safety of the bluffs prompted officials to close down the light rail for some time on Wednesday.

Mary McGuire

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