Minneapolis Minnesota (June 6, 2022) - PCL Minneapolis broke ground on the Tree Top Trail for the Minnesota Zoo this past April. This trail, designed by Snow Kreilich Architects, is set to be the longest elevated pedestrian loop in the world upon completion, spanning 1.25 miles and coming in at a peak height of 32 feet above ground.
The walkway will be built on top of a decommissioned monorail track that served as a popular attraction for the zoo since its opening in 1979. However, the monorail had to be decommissioned in 2013 due to high maintenance costs and low availability of parts. This left the Minnesota Zoo searching for a way to replace this fan favorite attraction.
PCL won the elevated boardwalk project after demonstrating how the team would leverage the latest techniques in prefabricated construction to build the trail from the top down. To achieve this approach, 20-foot, prefabricated sections of the boardwalk will be built off-site and then rolled into place on the track via trolly. This top-down build consists of 1,000 tons of structural steel, 2.8 miles of steel guard rail, 131,750 linear feet of decking boards (25 miles of boards if laid end-to-end), and just under 80,000 deck board fasteners to be installed by PCL. This unique approach will minimize disruption to zoo animals and guests.
The team will schedule weekly meetings with the zookeepers to ensure they are not disrupting the animals, with special attention paid to the sleep cycles and animal mating seasons. These meetings will cover not only the scope of the work, but also how to sequence work around the various animals to limit exposure to unfamiliar scents and noises.
PCL has constructed numerous projects for the Minneapolis Zoo over the years including upgrades to the aviary enclosure, construction of the Dino Trail animatronic attraction, upgrades to the upper & lower plaza, and the Crossroads Park Play Area.
The PCL Minneapolis team is excited to fully dive into this project. Tyler Schultz, project manager, says the “most exciting part about this project is that my family, alongside other families in the metro area, will be able to visit and enjoy it once the project is complete.” This is definitely something that many Minnesota natives and tourists alike can agree on and look forward to.
The project will be open to the public in roughly 13 months with July of 2023 as the estimated completion date.