Flood wall goes up at St. Paul Downtown Airport, some state parks see partial closures

A sign reading 'Trail Closed
Spring flooding along the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers has forced the closure of some trails and roads at Fort Snelling State Park in the Twin Cities on Tuesday.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

Updated: 11:50 a.m.

The main runway at the St. Paul Downtown Airport is shutting down temporarily Tuesday to allow crews to install flood barriers to hold back the rising Mississippi River.

As of Tuesday morning, the river had risen 6 feet in the past five days at St. Paul, and may soon inundate parts of the low-lying riverfront airport, also known as Holman Field. It’s forecast to rise another 4 feet by Sunday.

The Metropolitan Airports Commission installed a floodwall system in 2008, including removable pillars and metal planking that holds back water on the east side of the airport.

A wall construction project is seen
A temporary flood wall is seen behind a fence at St. Paul Downtown Airport on Tuesday.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

Part of the temporary wall was installed last week, closing two secondary runways at the downtown airport.

Crews will install the rest of the floodwall on Tuesday, closing the airport's main runway through the afternoon and possibly as late as 8 p.m.

The wall will require the operational length of the main runway to be shortened from 6,491 feet to about 5,300 feet. Markings will alert pilots to the change.

A sign reading 'Trail Closed'
A road at Fort Snelling State Park is closed due to spring flooding on Tuesday.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

The airport and its terminal will remain open.

“We’ve been preparing for many weeks to activate these full measures that mitigate flooding risks to the airfield and airport facilities at STP,” Joe Harris, director of reliever airports for the Metropolitan Airports Commission, said in a news release. “These preparations are helping maintain safe operations and minimize impacts for our customers.”

St. Paul Downtown Airport is a home base for about 90 aircraft and handled more than 40,000 takeoffs and landings last year.

The wall will be installed to a height of 4 feet and can be raised to a maximum height of 8.5 feet if needed. This spring will be the seventh time it's been deployed since it was installed 15 years ago.

Earlier this week, the city of St. Paul closed a stretch of Shepard/Warner Road — across the river from the downtown airport — ahead of forecast flooding.

Spring flooding has forced the closure of trail roads
High water along the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers is covering some roads and trails at Fort Snelling State Park in the Twin Cities.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

High rivers have also forced the partial closures in several state parks.

Fort Snelling State Park has been mostly closed due to the Mississippi River’s high levels. According to the park website, both Pike and Picnic Islands are closed due to the flooding, along with Snelling Lake Road and the visitor center.

Parts of several parks along the St. Croix River have been closed, mostly in low-lying areas next to the river including at Interstate, Wild River and St. Croix state parks.

The swinging bridge at Jay Cooke State Park has been closed due to higher than average spring river flows. The Red River State recreation area and Fort Ridgely State Park also have partial closures due to flooding.

Here's the timing for the highest river level forecasts that will see major flood stage this week:

  • St. Croix River at Stillwater: 89.5 feet on Friday

  • Mississippi River at St. Paul: 18.5 feet on Sunday

  • Mississippi River at Brooklyn Park: 16.2 feet on Thursday

  • Mississippi River at Hastings: 18.9 feet on Saturday

  • Minnesota River near Morton: 26.2 feet on Wednesday

  • Mississippi River at Winona: 18 feet on Saturday

  • Red River of the North at Fargo: 33.4 feet on Monday

  • Mississippi River at Red Wing: 17 feet on Saturday

  • Minnesota River at Montevideo: 19.2 feet on Tuesday

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