Geneva Road in Alexandria, Minnesota, was a narrow roadway, typical of the era in which it was built. It had served for many years as a way to get from Point A to Point B while also affording a scenic view of Lake Geneva. Over time, however, with changes in traffic, vehicles, habits, and expectations, it had become narrow to drive, difficult to bike or walk along, and didn’t offer much more than a pavement and gravel passage to the dense residential areas along the west side of the lake.
City officials moved forward with a project to improve the corridor, make the area safer and more accessible, and improve the bridge that spans the channel access between Lake Geneva and Lake Le Homme Dieu. The project posed unique challenges that required creative problem solving on the part of WSN’s engineering team and city staff.
The new roadway and separated multi-use trail abut CP Rail’s right-of-way along the full length of the project’s west side. The railroad maintains strict protocols for safety and site drainage when working within its right-of-way, and its permitting process is very thorough. WSN’s team began communicating with CP Rail’s local staff as well as its permitting group very early in the process to develop a solution that would accommodate the trail and satisfy CP Rail’s requirements.
Lake Geneva is adjacent to the roadway on the east. Working in close proximity to a lake poses challenges, but as a body of water that has been identified by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources as infested with an Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) (zebra mussels), working near and in Lake Geneva presented another layer of complications. The channel bridge was widened to accommodate the road and trail system. Given Lake Geneva’s AIS status, WSN’s engineers and the contractor followed the DNR’s strict requirements for working in, on, and from infested waters. All equipment that was slated to leave the project site had to be decontaminated. Anything that left the site daily (e.g., boots, shovels, etc.) was decontaminated daily, while other equipment that stayed on-site until it was no longer needed required decontamination only once.
Geneva Road has gone from simply accommodating travel from one point to another, to a safe roadway and trail that allows users to enjoy the journey. The new trail links Lake Geneva neighborhoods to a network of trails that lead to a popular beach, fishing pier, middle school, and the Central Lakes State Trail—a 55-mile-long trail system that winds throughout central Minnesota
Using local, state, and federal funding, the City of Alexandria and WSN’s team transformed this unremarkable road into a beautiful and safe route that can be enjoyed by motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists alike.