Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail Creates Recreational Opportunities Over, Under and Through a Developed Community



Three Rivers Park District (TRPD), one of the largest park organizations in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, was faced with a regional trail system problem. Between 2000 and 2014, TRPD constructed 9.2 miles of the Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail through four Minnesota communities: Hopkins, Minnetonka, Richfield and Bloomington.

At this time, they were left with the most challenging piece of the puzzle: the middle – a 6.1 mile stretch that lay through the heart of the City of Edina. Situated immediately southwest of Minneapolis, Edina has a population of nearly 50,000 residents across 16 square miles. It is a first-ring, highly developed suburb known for its quality of living, education system, shopping and dining. Edina also hosts numerous private properties, protected wetlands and beautiful parks.

Prior to its partnership with SEH, TRPD’s master plan for the Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail included a map of the completed portions of the trail. This map featured a line sketched through Edina; TRPD’s hope for connecting the finished sections. TRPD needed a partner who could transform this “line” into a safe, ADA-friendly, paved and non-motorized, multi-use regional trail – one that would weave seamlessly through the highly developed City. Understanding the challenges ahead, the trust needed, the number of project components that would be taking place simultaneously and the amount of engineering expertise required, TRPD selected SEH to bring this line to life. 

Related Content: Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail Case Study: 11 Tips for Your Next Infrastructure Project


Designing and constructing this 6.1 mile segment proved to be uniquely challenging due to the trail’s proximity to private and commercial properties, wetlands, woodlands and floodplains; the need to pass over two major highways; under a heavily used City street via a tunnel; and through other significantly developed infrastructure. With 6.1 miles to traverse and obstacles around every corner, the SEH project team undertook a number of planning, design and construction administration solutions: 

  • 4.1 miles of paved trail
  • 1.7 miles of raised timber boardwalk (1.1 million board ft.)
  • 19 temporary/permanent property and right-of-way easements
  • 3 separate street reconstructions featuring roadway narrowing
  • 588 ft. long, 5-span concrete girder pedestrian bridge over major MnDOT highway
  • 1,025 ft. long, 10-span concrete girder pedestrian bridge over major MnDOT highway
  • 14 ft. by 10 ft. concrete box culvert pedestrian tunnel
  • Lightweight aggregate (fine gravel) used to protect trail from poor soils
  • Over 3,000 lineal ft. of drainage swales to infiltrate stormwater
  • ~800 trees and shrubs planted for vegetative screening adjacent to residential properties
  • Designed a separate roundabout with seamless, safe trail crossings integrated

This project, which took nearly four years and $25 million to complete, exemplifies TRPD’s commitment to creating facilities that inspire people to walk, ride as well as connect with each other and nature – while at the same time protecting the region’s water and natural resources. It also exemplifies the trust TRPD (as well as the City of Edina and 17 other regulatory agencies) placed in SEH.

As noted above, the SEH team – consisting of 100+ team members across all disciplines – began 2014 with a line on a page from the TRPD master plan. During summer 2018, the trail was unveiled and opened to the public, with nearly 110,000 trail users expected each year along the Edina segment. Now connected across more than 16 miles, the Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail as a whole will serve nearly 500,000 users per year. Of note, the entirety of the Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail is compliant with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA); it was designed to ensure all demographics and abilities can access and freely use the trail.

The video above shares an in-depth look at the completed trail, how it all came together, and how the project represents SEH’s mission of building a better world.


2019 Public Works Project of the Year | American Public Works Association
Engineering Excellence Grand Award | American Council of Engineering Companies, Minnesota Chapter (ACEC-MN)
Project of the Year Special Recognition Award | City Engineers Association of Minnesota
Trails and Corridors– Class II Award | National Association of Country Park and Recreation Officials (NACPRO)
Innovation in Park Design Award | National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA)

Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail

Three Rivers Park District (Edina, Minnesota) 

Trail planning and design
Electrical engineering and design
Structural engineering
Water resource engineering
Environmental engineering
Geotechnical engineering
Civil and heavy civil engineering
Transportation engineering and planning
Traffic signal engineering
Landscape architecture and design
Water resources engineering
Wetland services and permitting