Metropolitan Planning Briefing — February 2020

Metropolitan Planning Briefing

February 2020

In this Briefing we offer updates on public comment period for MPO grants, paved trail conditions, MPO officers for 2020, and upcoming speakers.

Public feedback is being sought on 19 grant applications to the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program and its related Set-Aside Program. The grants are funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation and administered by the MPO.

The applications seek more than $34 million to help fund a range of projects from roadways, bridges and transit buses to trails, safe routes to school and on-street facilities. There is approximately $13 million in available funding.

The public can find project descriptions and an interactive map of the 19 projects online at and leave comments on the site now through Friday, March 27. Comments can also be shared at a public meeting from 4:30 to 6 p.m.  Tuesday, March 24, at the MPO office, 420 Watson Powell, Jr. Way, Suite 200, Des Moines, IA 50309.

The MPO also scores the projects on how well they help meet the regional performance measures established in Mobilizing Tomorrow, the region’s recently updated long-range transportation plan ( The scores and public comments will be presented to a funding subcommittee of local officials, who will make a funding recommendation. The recommendation will be presented to the MPO Policy Committee in April for review and again in May for final approval. Once awarded, the grants will be allocated in federal fiscal year 2024. 

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

TRAILS CONDITION REPORT: Of 112 miles tested in ‘19, most are Smooth or Very Smooth

The MPO measured the roughness of 112 miles of paved trails in 2019, and the majority were found to be in Smooth or Very Smooth condition, according to the 2019 Central Iowa Trail Condition Report. Only 1% of trails tested in 2019 were found to be in Rough or Very Rough condition.

The data were collected using the Iowa Data Bike, an electric-assist bicycle that uses an iPhone with specialized app for sensing the roughness of pavement.

The Smart Cities Connect Foundation recently recognized the Iowa Data Bike with a Smart 50 Award, which recognizes global smart cities projects, honoring the most innovative and influential work in the world.

Pavement conditions will continue to be collected in 2020.

MPO LEADERSHIP: Committee Members Set; Officers Elected

The MPO Policy Committee voted unanimously to approve officers for 2020:

Chair Joe Gatto, Des Moines City Council
Vice Chair Matt McCoy, Polk County Board of Supervisors
Secretary/Treasurer Sara Kurovski, Pleasant Hill Mayor

MPO member governments have finalized their choice of representatives to MPO committees for 2020:

Policy Committee
Executive Committee
Transportation Technical Committee

Staff would like to thank outgoing Chair Steve Gaer, Mayor of West Des Moines, for his two years leading the MPO as Chair.

EVENTS: Upcoming Speakers

The power of the arts, the value of the Census, and the unintended consequences of the law – these are the topics of the next three speakers in the Tomorrow Plan Speaker Series.

  • Friday, March 6Clay Lord, Americans for the Arts: “How Arts and Culture Strengthen Communities.”
  • Wednesday, March 25Olivia Snarski, National League of Cities: “The Many Values of the Census.”
  • Thursday, May 14Greg Shill, University of Iowa College of Law: “Americans Shouldn’t Have to Drive, but the Law Insists on It.”

The events are all held at the State Historical Museum, 600 E. Locust St., Des Moines. Each follows the same format:

  • 11:30 a.m. – Lunch (available for purchase online)
  • 11:45 a.m. – Historical preview
  • 12:00 p.m. – Keynote
  • 1:00 p.m. – Q&A

Hope to see you there!

IN THE NEWS: Water Trails, Transload

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