Transload Facility

The Des Moines Area MPO has been planning for a new Des Moines Transload Facility, which will strengthen the connection between the region’s trucking and rail freight networks and lower shipping costs for businesses within a 150-mile radius of the capital city.  In 2018, the Des Moines Transload Facility was awarded a $11.2 million Better Utilizing Infrastructure to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant.

Public Comment: Environmental Assessment (Closed July 27, 2020)

The Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), City of Des Moines, Greater Des Moines Partnership (GDMP), and Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT), in conjunction with Des Moines Industrial (DSMI), propose to construct a multi-modal transloading facility (Des Moines Area Transloading Facility or Project) to include trackage, docks, and warehousing within the Des Moines Metropolitan Area.  The MPO selected DSMI as the developer of the Project.  DSMI is also the owner and operator of the facility.  The MPO will use U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) funds, administered by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), to construct this facility.

Therefore, FRA must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq.) prior to authorizing DMAMPO to use DOT funds and commence construction of the Project.  NEPA requires federal agencies to consider the impacts of their actions on the natural, social, economic, and cultural environment and to disclose those considerations in a public document.  The NEPA process helps public officials make decisions based on an understanding of the environmental consequences and take actions that protect, restore, and enhance the environment (40 C.F.R. § 1500.1).

As required by NEPA, this Environmental Assessment (EA) provides FRA and the public with a full accounting of the environmental impacts of the alternatives developed to meet the Project’s purpose and need.  This EA serves as the primary document to facilitate review of the Project by federal, state and local agencies, and the public.  The EA process concludes with either a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) or a determination to proceed in preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  FRA and the MPO are joint lead agencies in the preparation of this EA.

The following documents were developed for this project.  The public comment period closed July 27, 2020.  The MPO and FRA are currently reviewing comments received and will continue the NEPA process.

Environmental Assessment – Des Moines Transload Facility
Appendix A: Wetland Delineation Report and USACE Review
Appendix B: Threatened and Endangered Species Habitat Evaluation (including IPaC) and USFWS Review
Appendix C: Floodplain Map
Appendix D: EDR Radius Map Report and IDNR Letter
Appendix E: SHPO Consultation, Cultural Resources Desktop Assessment, Phase IA Cultural Resources Survey, and Historic Structures Report
Appendix F: Tribal Consultation Letters


Greater Des Moines is among few metros in the country to be served by three national (Class 1) and one regional (Class 2) rail carriers, with freight networks stretching from coast to coast and the Mexican and Canadian borders. Only about 25 percent of U.S. shippers have direct access to more than one Class 1 railroad.

However, there is currently a limited connection between the robust rail network and the state’s vast farm-to-market network of roads and highways served by the trucking industry. At present, there is only one transload facility where freight can be transferred between rail cars and semitrucks, and it is served by a single rail carrier, a so-called “captive” facility without competition.

The new Des Moines Transload Facility will be “non-captive,” served by multiple rail carriers, thereby increasing the capacity of rail freight and encouraging competition among rail carriers. This could significantly lower shipping costs and provide a significant boost to the regional economy. Estimates show that the average cost of shipping commodities may drop by 50 percent.

In 2018, the Des Moines Transload Facility was awarded a $11.2 million Better Utilizing Infrastructure to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant.

Past Reports, Studies, and Maps

DSM Railport – Feasibility Report – Final (June 28, 2014)
DSM Railport – Transportation Impediments – Final (August 2014)
DSM Railport – Market Analysis – Final (January 31, 2014)
DSM Railport – Rail Map 2014-08-05