Metropolitan Planning Briefing — December 2019


December 2019

In this Briefing we offer up updates on the Mobilizing Tomorrow, the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program, a $25 million BUILD grant for water trails, an e-scooter survey, and staff news.

The newly adopted Long-Range Transportation Plan, Mobilizing Tomorrow.

ADOPTED: Long-Range Transportation Plan, Mobilizing Tomorrow

The region has an updated long-range transportation plan, Mobilizing Tomorrow.

Besides setting a long-term vision for our region’s transportation plan, the plan is important because it is a federal requirement for the region’s jurisdictions to be eligible for federal transportation funding. The Des Moines Area MPO develops this plan on behalf of its member governments as one of its primary functions.

The plan was developed by staff over an 18-month period under the guidance of a steering committee, with representation from the public and private sectors. The final plan was adopted in November by unanimous vote of the MPO Policy Committee.

Notably, the plan places increased emphasis on preserving and improving the existing roadway system, increasing the spending target for major roadway reconstruction and replacement projects.

NOW ACCEPTING: Surface Transportation Block Grant Applications

Applications are being accepted now through January 17, 2020, for the Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2024 Surface Transportation Block Grant Program. An estimated $13 million will be available for highway, bridge, street, transit and pedestrian projects.

The applications will be scored and go out for public comment in February. The MPO Policy Committee will vote on final awards in May.

For more information on these programs, please call or email MPO staff at 515-334-0075 or

FUNDING: $25 Million BUILD Grant for Water Trails

In case you missed the big news, the Des Moines Area MPO received a $25 million grant for Central Iowa Water Trails from the highly competitive Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development, or BUILD, grant program of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The grant was one of only 55 awarded nationwide, out of 666 applications, and it was one of only six grants to receive the maximum award.

The grant will significantly accelerate the implementation of the Central Iowa Water Trails initiative, which includes 86 projects throughout the region. Specifically, the grant will help to activate a five-mile stretch of the Des Moines River by mitigating the Scott Avenue Dam and making improvements at three neighborhood access points. The total cost of these four projects is $31.25 million, 80 percent of which will be covered by the BUILD grant. 

Click here for more information.

SURVEY: What do you think of e-scooters?

Another significant step has been completed in the pursuit of opening the Des Moines Transload Facility next year.

The public is being asked what they think of e-scooters in a newly opened survey. The deadline to respond is Sunday, January 19, 2020.

An e-scooter, short for electric scooter, is an electric powered, stand-up scooter that can carry a person at approximately 15 miles per hour for short distances. Privately owned e-scooters are already being used within the public right of way in the Des Moines region. Additionally, several scooter-sharing companies have expressed interest in starting a program in Des Moines.

The Des Moines Area MPO is part of a larger study group exploring possible regulations and a scooter-share program pilot, together with the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority, the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Operation Downtown, and the Street Collective of Greater Des Moines. The study is being closely coordinated with the City of Des Moines.

Zhi Chen, MPO Associate Planner

STAFF NEWS: Zhi Chen earns entry into AICP Candidate Program

Please join us in congratulating MPO Associate Planner Zhi Chen for passing the AICP Exam and becoming one of the first planners in Iowa to join the AICP Candidate Program of the American Institute of Certified Planners. 

CALENDAR: 2020 MPO Committee Dates

The dates of been set for the standing meetings of the MPO’s three primary committees and can be found using the links below.

Transportation Technical Committee
Executive Committee
Policy Committee

IN THE NEWS: Water Trails, Transload, E-Scooters

The Des Moines Area MPO has been in the news quite a bit recently. Here are the headlines.

WeAreIowa 5: Survey asks what Des Moines residents think of e-scooters
Des Moines Register: Work on new $25 million transloading facility in Des Moines could begin in early 2020
Business Record: Lawmakers’ wish list for next session
Transportation For America: Connecting people to jobs and services
Business Record: Much to pay attention to in 2020 in downtown Des Moines
KCCI: Des Moines City Council moves forward on $25 million railroad facility

That’s it for this briefing. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to reach out. Thank you.


Gunnar Olson | Communications and Strategy Manager
Des Moines Area MPO | 420 Watson Powell, Jr. Parkway, Suite 200 | Des Moines, Iowa 50309 515-334-0075 | |