Metropolitan Planning Briefing — December 2021

Metropolitan Planning Briefing — December 2021

In this briefing you’ll find updates on the new infrastructure bill, MPO grants, a new performance measure dashboard, the transload facility, water trails, broadband internet study, a new planner, and details for 2022.In this Briefing you’ll find updates on the new infrastructure bill, MPO grants, a new performance measure dashboard, the transload facility, water trails, broadband internet study, a new planner, and details for 2022.

INFRASTRUCTURE BILL: More funding likely for local projects

An influx in infrastructure funding is anticipated for local projects following the November passage of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.

The five-year bill – named the “Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America Act,” or “INVEST in America Act” – includes a transportation authorization bill, with $274.1 billion in new spending authority for the U.S. DOT. Staff shared these and other highlights at a recent Policy Committee meeting:

Notable funding opportunities include:

  • 23% increase nationally in Year 1 of the bill for the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program, which is administered locally by the Des Moines Area MPO. Additional 2% increases in Years 2-5 of the bill.
  • 63% increase nationally in Year 1 of the bill for the Transportation Alternatives Program, which is also administered locally by the Des Moines Area MPO. Additional 2% increases in Years 2-5 of the bill.
  • New Carbon Reduction Program ($6.4 billion nationally)
  • New PROTECT Program for resilient infrastructure ($7.3 billion nationally)
  • New Electric Vehicle Program ($5 billion nationally)
  • New Bridge Program ($27 billion nationally)

It remains to be seen how much of these funds will be available to the Greater Des Moines region, when they’ll be available, or how to apply for them. Staff is tracking these processes as they are being developed by the U.S. DOT and Iowa DOT and will continue to update MPO committees and member communities.

Reach out to Assistant Director Dylan Mullenix ( for more information.

MPO GRANTS: Now accepting applications for STBG and TAP programs

Applications are being accepted now through January 7, 2022, for the federal grant programs administered by the Des Moines Area MPO. Visit the MPO webpages linked below to view the program schedule, guidelines and applications:

Reach out to Planning Manager Zach Young ( for more information on the STBG Program or to Planner Aspen Pflanz ( regarding the TAP Program.

NEW RESOURCE: Performance Measure Dashboard

There’s a new online tool to track the region’s progress meeting its goals in the long-range transportation plan, Mobilizing Tomorrow.

The Performance Measures Dashboard is now available for member jurisdictions and the public to view the latest data. Eight of the 15 performance measures have been added to the dashboard so far, with more expected in the coming months.

Reach out Associate Planner Zhi Chen ( for more information about the Performance Measure Dashboard.


The regional and statewide economy will have a new competitive advantage starting next month, when the long-awaited transloading facility opens in downtown Des Moines.

The transload facility, born out of the MPO’s planning committees nearly a decade ago, is now a 31-acre site at 200 SE 15th Street in Des Moines that will enable the transfer of industrial goods – such as lumber, rock, salt, food products, etc. – between truck and train, or vice versa. In essence, the transload facility connects the regional interstate shipping routes to the national network of railroads.

The MPO also raised nearly $13 million in public funds for the project, including an $11.2 million Better Utilizing Infrastructure to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

WATER TRAILS: Bidding opens for dam project

Two years ago this fall we had the pleasure of sharing the good news, a $25 million BUILD grant that the MPO secured for a collection of water trails projects, most visibly the mitigation of the Scott Avenue Dam at the confluence of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers, along with three access points upstream and downstream.

Now, it is our pleasure to say that the project is going out for bid next month. Construction could begin as early as April and completion is expected by the end of 2024.

When complete, the public will benefit from two upstream access points, at Prospect Park and Birdland Marina; whitewater features where once stood a deadly low-head dam under the Scott Avenue bridge, along with shoreline amenities; and an access point to take out downstream near Harriot Street.

The water trails project is an example of the MPO serving as public partner in a public-private partnership. Specifically, the grant served as a catalyst, leveraging private fundraising dollars and ultimately accelerating the implementation of the regional water trails plan that was developed by the MPO and adopted in November 2016.

BROADBAND: Regional study released

There is an opportunity to improve broadband access and increase adoption by up to 19% of households, or approximately 181,500 people, in the 11-county region included in the Central Iowa Broadband Internet Study. This would create an estimated 20-year net present value of $1.25 billion to the region.

These are among the findings of the study, released today. The MPO was one of the study funders. Click here for the full study, or find a summary of findings and recommendations here.

The study includes several recommendations toward implementation, such as establishing a sponsor organization to improve coordination, progressive broadband policies being adopted by cities and counties, and the need to pursue grant funding.

WELCOME BACK: Former intern rejoins MPO as planner

Join us in welcoming Aspen Pflanz back to the Des Moines Area MPO.

Pflanz previously worked at the MPO as an intern, before landing a position as a transportation planner with the Iowa Department of Transportation. Returning now to the MPO, she will lead the active transportation planning initiatives. She will staff the Central Iowa Bicycle-Pedestrian Roundtable and assist in managing the region’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP).

She is an alumna of Iowa State University, with a master’s degree in Community and Regional Planning, Preservation and bachelor’s degree in history and political science.

NEW YEAR: Ready for 2022

Now is the time for MPO member governments to appoint their representatives to the Policy Committee and Transportation Technical Committee for calendar year 2022. Following member appointments, new officers will be elected and will take office in March.

Staff gave an overview of the process at a recent Policy Committee meeting.

Additionally, meeting dates have been set for the new year for the primary MPO committees. View the om the committee webpages or on the MPO Calendar.

Policy Committee

Executive Committee

Transportation Technical Committee

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