Metropolitan Planning Briefing — July 2020

Metropolitan Planning Briefing

July 2020

In this Briefing we unveil the MPO’s 2020 Annual Report; offer updates on the Transload Facility, the Transportation Improvement Plan, and a new list of illustrative projects; and share a video for those missing the Tomorrow Plan Speaker Series.

ANNUAL REPORT: Delivering value to MPO members and region

We are pleased to present the FY2020 Annual Report, highlighting our work over the past year.

The report describes MPO investments in the region over the past five years, provides a snapshot of the state of the transportation system, and notes the progress made on several of the MPO’s initiatives, including the Iowa Data Bike, Transload Facility, Central Iowa Water Trails, and the Tomorrow Plan Speaker Series.

All in all, FY2020 was a productive year. We hope you check out the report.

TRANSLOAD FACILITY: Environmental Analysis Open for Public Comment

One of the MPO’s signature initiatives – a long sought-after transloading facility at the center of the metro – is another important step closer to reality: An Environmental Analysis has been drafted and released for public comment.

“So far the environmental analysis has not turned up any significant environmental impacts,” said Todd Ashby, CEO and Executive Director of the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). “Before moving forward, we want to check in with the public to ensure we are not missing anything.”

A transload facility serves to transfer raw goods from trucks to trains, and vice versa. The $25 million Des Moines Area Transloading Facility would include trackage, docks, and warehousing on a site that is uniquely situated in southeast Des Moines with access to two Class 1 railroads that span the country, as well as the regional Iowa Interstate Railroad.

The MPO secured nearly $13 million for the project, including a $1.7 million interest-free loan from Iowa Department of Transportation, as well as an $11.2 million BUILD Grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

For more information and to comment on the Environmental Analysis, please visit


This year’s Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) has been drafted and is currently out for public comment.

The TIP is a federally required document that needs to be updated each year. It is essentially a list of all of the transportation projects utilizing federal dollars that are being developed over the next four years. Developing the TIP for the Des Moines metropolitan area is one of the core functions of the Des Moines Area MPO, which it does as behalf of its member governments.

Each year the public is invited to review the TIP and comment on it. Written comments for the MPO’s TIP are being accepted through July 11. Click here to review the TIP and comment. For more information on the projects, please call or email MPO staff at 515-334-0075 or

ILLUSTRATIVE PROJECTS: What’s possible, though not funded, in the future

The Des Moines Area MPO is adding “illustrative projects” to its Long-Range Transportation Plan, Mobilizing Tomorrow.  

They are called illustrative projects because they have no funding currently identified for them – but are being added to show the public what possible improvements could be made to the region’s transportation network in the future. The illustrative projects range from trail connections to new highways. Click here for the full list. Notable examples include: 

  • A Northeast Beltway from Interstate Highway 80 / U.S. Highway 65 to Interstate Highway 35.
  • A Southwest Bypass from Interstate Highway 80 to Veterans Parkway / Interstate Highway 35.
  • A North-South Metro Connector from Interstate Highway 235 to Highway 415.

Public comments are being accepted now through August 14, 2020, using an interactive online map on the MPO’s website. Comments can also be shared at an online public meeting 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 22, via Zoom. Click here to register. Comments can also be shared with MPO staff by calling 515-334-0075 or emailing All details and links can also be found at

SPEAKER SERIES: Greg Shill Is Now Streaming

The Tomorrow Plan Speaker Series has been on a bit of a hiatus during the pandemic. But not to worry, the speaker series is gearing back up to start importing ideas and inspiration again as we settle into our new normal.

In the meantime, you can relive the most recent speaker via video. We heard from Greg Shill, an associate professor at the University of Iowa College of Law, on owning a car as “the price of first-class citizenship.” He dives into the findings of his recent law review article on the topic, which he summarized in a magazine article in The Atlantic titled “Americans Shouldn’t Have to Drive, but the Law Insists on It.”

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 | |