Client WSB & Associates, City of Brainerd
Location Brainerd, Minnesota
Scope One-mile main high-traffic corridor upgrades

College Drive

Project Details

Westwood’s Role

  • Boundary Survey, Topographic Survey, Right-of-Way, Construction Staking
  • Wetland Delineation, Environmental Reviews
  • Civil Engineering; Stormwater Design and Erosion Control
  • Landscape Architecture; Pedestrian, Aesthetic Treatments, Landscape, and Irrigation


With the Mississippi River running through the City of Brainerd, mile-long College Drive is one of the few roadways crossing the river and the main corridor connecting Central Lakes College at one end and Brainerd High School at the other. This two-lane roadway with a common turning lane could not accommodate all the local traffic. Turning in and out of driveways along the corridor had become extremely difficult. College Drive had become unsafe, especially for pedestrians. Additional lanes, controlled intersections/access, pedestrian connections, and strong aesthetic were needed within this corridor.

College Drive was also within the confines of the Mississippi River corridor, so the stormwater plan and irrigation requirements extended beyond the usual roadway design. Westwood designed an erosion control plan and a stormwater control plan with ponds designed to hold and improve water quality flowing in to the Mississippi River, along with an irrigation system that met all regulations.

Strategic Trails and Crossings

Once the roadway plan was in place, the Westwood team set out a plan to accommodate the capacity and connectivity for pedestrian segments flowing into this corridor from nearby walkways and regional trails. There was a lack of funding for a new bridge over the Mississippi River which led the team to a creative approach of keeping the existing bridge deck and providing modified crossings and safety barriers. The two existing 6-foot pedestrian walkways were combined into a single12-foot trail crossing, along with a new underpass, making travel safer for pedestrians and bicyclists at the river area. There were also strategic roadway pedestrian crossings at the round-abouts and street crossings, along with a median pedestrian cable rail pedestrian deterrent at the college. Cuyuna Lakes Regional Trail extension was part of the project, along with comprehensive connections to the Paul Bunyan Regional Trail and Kiwanis Park.

Because of the magnitude of the project, one of the biggest challenges was convincing the stakeholders that overall, the design for what they wanted to accomplish was the best value in the long run for their budget. The Westwood team kept an open line of communication and provided a design standards booklet that laid out the master plan for all elements of the project in response to city and public concerns.

Balancing Aesthetics and Engineering

One of the key features that the community desired was to integrate attractive aesthetics into the project, to lessen the straight engineered look that most roadways encompass. The Westwood team took on the challenge to design these “green” elements into the project with wide tree-lined boulevards, landscaped medians, and attractive round-about center pieces. In addition, great detail was made to integrate colored concrete landscape planter edges and roadway crosswalks, not to mention ornamental bridge fencing/piers, decorative retaining wall block, and special pedestrian lighting. All created a corridor project that the community was excited to see implemented.