Metropolitan Planning Briefing — March 2021

Metropolitan Planning Briefing – March 2021

In this Briefing we share exciting progress on the Transload Facility; two opportunities for public input on MPO’s funding and planning process; and an update on the Rain Campaign.

MOVING DIRT! Construction begins on long-awaited Transload Facility

Construction crews are finally moving dirt at the future home of Iowa’s premier industrial transloading facility, after years of planning by the MPO. Above, an excavator clears trees on the 31-acre site at 200 SE 15th Street in Des Moines. Read the full announcement here.

The new transload facility is expected to be fully operational by late 2021, enabling 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.

Shipping costs are expected to drop for the region. Shipping by train is generally cheaper than by truck – and especially so at this location, which connects to multiple train carriers competing for business.

The project was born out of planning work by the MPO, which first showed the feasibility for such a facility at that location. 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.

PUBLIC COMMENT: Public asked to help decide which local transportation projects to fund

Residents of Greater Des Moines are invited to share their opinions on which local transportation projects they would like to see receive funding from the MPO.

Twenty-eight projects are under consideration, ranging from roadways, bridges and transit buses to trails, safe routes to school and on-street facilities. More than $42 million has been requested from the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program, as well as the Surface Transportation Block Grant Set-Aside Program, which combined have an approximately $14 million in available funding. Both grant programs are funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation and administered by the MPO.

The public can find project descriptions and an interactive map of the projects online at and leave comments on the site now through Friday, March 26.

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 2025. 

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

PUBLIC COMMENT: Updated plans for public participation and language assistance

The public is invited to review and provide feedback on updates to two important MPO documents, the Public Participation Plan and the Language Assistance Plan. Feedback is being collected through Wednesday, March 31.

Public Participation Plan

Language Assistance Plan

Feedback can be provided via email by clicking here, or by phone at 515-334-0075, or by mail to MPO, 420 Watson Powell Jr. Way #200, Des Moines, IA 50309.

Additionally, the public can share feedback during a virtual public meeting starting at 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 24, 2021. Login information can be requested by calling the MPO office at 515-334-0075.

RAIN CAMPAIGN: Gearing up for Spring

Spring is upon us, and with it comes another season of the Rain Campaign.

The Rain Campaign was started in 2019 by partner organizations including the MPO, in collaboration with metro cities. The goal is to empower homeowners to help manage rainwater on their properties, thereby reducing the detrimental effects of stormwater runoff.

The Rain Campaign offers a one-stop website at for information and resources in central Iowa. This include educational materials, such as this new manual for creating rain gardens, as well as information on city-based incentive programs, such as reimbursement programs for soil-quality restoration and rain barrel rebates.

Marketing materials for newsletters or social media have been developed and are available to participating cities and organizations. Promotional materials also include large pieces of public art – a bright red umbrella and yellow raincoat – which are great conversation-starters at festivals, farmers’ markets and other events. For marketing materials or to borrow the public art for your local events, email MPO Senior Planner Allison van Pelt at

Have a great spring!

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 | |