May 2019

FUNDING: MPO awards $14 million to advance regional goals

The Des Moines Area MPO in April awarded more than $14 million to 18 transportation projects improving Greater Des Moines.

The projects receiving funding range from widening streets and the reconstruction of existing roads and bridges, as well as trails, streetscapes and transit buses. The grants are available through the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program and the Surface Transportation Block Grant Set-Aside Program, which are funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation and administered by the MPO. The grant money becomes available for these projects in October 2022.

Click here for a complete listing of funded projects.

MPO staff scored the projects on how well they help meet the regional performance measures established in Mobilizing Tomorrow. Additionally, the public provided comments and feedbacks on the proposed projects. The MPO Funding Subcommittee reviewed applications, scoring and public comment and made a recommendation to the MPO Policy Committee, which approved the funding for the recommended projects on April 19.

WATER TRAILS: New Incubator announced

The latest Policy Committee meeting was held Thursday, February 21. You can find the full agenda HERE and the full presentation HERE. Topics include a presentation from Des Moines Civil and Human Rights staff, a Banking and Treasury Services Request for Proposal, Safety Targets, and an MOU between DART and the MPO.

Capital Crossroads yesterday announced the creation of the Central Iowa Water Trails Incubator, a regional public-private partnership for the purpose of implementing the plan for 150 miles of water trails throughout Central Iowa.

The Central Iowa Water Trails Incubator will be led by a board of directors comprised of business, non-profit and government leaders; click HERE for a complete list of confirmed board members as of May 6. The Incubator will be supported by a coalition of regional organizations, including Catch Des Moines, the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, the Greater Des Moines Partnership, the Great Outdoors Foundation, and the Des Moines Area MPO.

“We are going to make this happen,” said Dan Houston, who was elected as Chair of the Incubator Board of Directors. “While we have many miles to go, I am confident we have the right team of leaders and organizations to make water trails a reality for Central Iowa.”

Water trails have emerged as a top regional priority because they advance several important outcomes. They will improve safety of the rivers, increase economic development, help attract workforce and tourism, support efforts to conserve the environment, and provide more outdoor recreation opportunities for residents and visitors.

Major focuses of the Incubator will include fundraising, regional project coordination, the design and construction of the downtown dam-mitigation projects, environmental conservation efforts and education, inclusion, branding and marketing, and the development of a long-term governance model.

PUBLIC COMMENT: Opinions sought on roadway capacity projects

The Des Moines Area MPO is seeking opinions from residents of Greater Des Moines on the 176 roadway capacity projects submitted for inclusion in the Long-Range Transportation Plan.

Click here for the interactive online map to explore the projects and leave comments.

Roadway capacity projects will receive a maximum of 40 percent of the federal funds allocated annually by the Des Moines Area MPO, under a new set of funding targets approved earlier this year by the MPO Policy Committee. The new funding targets also sets minimums of 20 percent for bridges, 20 percent for maintenance, 10 percent for system optimization, and 10 percent for transit.

Under the old funding targets, a maximum of 60 percent had been going to roadway capacity projects, while minimums were set at 15 percent went to bridges, 10 percent to maintenance and system optimization, 10 percent for transit, and 5 percent of flexible funding.

The public can submit comments on the 176 roadway capacity projects using an interactive map at Comments can also be given via phone at 515-334-0075 or email at The deadline to submit comments is Friday, May 31.

TRANSLOAD FACILITY: Operator recommended

The Policy Committee voted unanimously to authorize staff to enter negotiations with a recommended operator for the Des Moines Transload Facility.

The recommended operator is a team comprised of local businessman Paul Cownie as the investor and developer, together with Gabe Claypool as the operator.

Related, the MPO has been working with the Federal Rail Administration to begin accessing the $11.2 BUILD Grant that was awarded to the project late last year. One of the next steps will be to complete an Environmental Impact Study.

NEXT SPEAKER: Olivia Gude of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The Policy Committee voted unanimously to authorize staff to enter negotiations with a recommended operator for the Des Moines Transload Facility.

Next up in the Tomorrow Plan Speaker Series is Olivia Gude of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she teaches about art education for schools and communities. Her talk will be on intergenerational public art projects can create vibrant public spaces that inform and transform community life.


IN THE NEWS: Noteworthy MPO Mentions

Des Moines Business Record: MPO doles out $14 million
Des Moines Business Record: Partnership releases federal priorities


The MPO is seeking public comment on two amendments to the Federal Fiscal Year 2019-2022 TIP (Transportation Improvement Program).

Click here to view details on the proposed amendments.

Comments can be submitted by email at , by phone at 515-334-0075, or in person at the next MPO Policy Committee meeting at 4 p.m. Thursday, May 23, at the MPO office.